Latest Entries

The Tallest Man on Earth, Edinburgh (27 Oct 2012)

Marta-Emilia Bona’s Christmas came early as The Tallest Man on Earth came to Edinburgh. 

Kristian Matsson and I have been through a lot together.

Everyone holds dear an artist that provides an invaluable source of comfort on those days where all you want to do is curl up next to your radiator and feel pathetically sorry for yourself – ‘The Tallest Man on Earth’ is mine. My four-year love affair with the Swedish born folk singer reached its climax on Saturday night, during an enchanting performance at the HMV Picture House, Edinburgh. Continue reading…

Squeeze

Following a documentary on the band, Martin Cloake writes about Squeeze.

Take Me I’m Yours was the latest in what’s proving to be a well-crafted series of documentaries on early 1980s bands, and this one on Squeeze topped even the superb recent Undertones episode. I’ve been a huge fan for years, and I’ve never understood why the band are so often dismissed as pop/pub band candy floss.

I can remember standing with my schoolmates outside a church in Bounds Green, having been told to queue up to get homework during a teachers’ strike in the early 1980s. If you wanted to look cool at the time, you could reel off all the words to Cool for Cats, which was Squeeze’s current hit evoking a Sweeney-like world of coppers and villains in London. These were London boys singing about London things in accents we identified with and although there was something of a novelty appeal about the single – and about the way the tune was marketed – we also sensed there was something more to it. The lyrical dexterity that has attracted thoughtful kids to well-crafted pop music for ages was on display early on. Continue reading…

To Rome With Love

Earlier this year Robert Weide’s enjoyable documentary on Woody Allen showed a filmmaker who stores ideas on post-it notes he later develops; To Rome with Love, Allen’s latest piece, looks to be a combination of four separate post-it notes of varying strength intercut against a majestic backdrop of Rome.

Starting with a beautiful tracking shot of the Italian capital, the exterior shots of Rome are the only constant to four vignettes, that are more like extended comedy sketches. The cast is naturally strong and includes Allen himself, first appearing on screen , expressing himself like a hypochondriac John McEnroe to his wife, played by Judy Davis. Continue reading…

Wonderful World of Purchase Power

Last Wednesday, the German double winners, Borussia Dortmund, came to the reigning English League champions, Manchester City, and played them off their own park. Only an excellent individual display by goalkeeper Joe Hart kept City alive before a late debatable penalty salvaged a point that kept them off the bottom of a competitive Champions League group. Though a high quality group, with City as strong as they have been in their mixed history, the match wasn’t seen by a full house, with empty sky blue seats visible to the watching millions on TV around the world.

City are not alone. Arsenal also failed to sell out their first home Champions League group game of the season last week, and Tottenham Hotspur, who have tens of thousands on their season ticket holder waiting list, had thousands of empty seats when SS Lazio visited in the Europa League last month. Meanwhile, ahead the kick-off in Tottenham’s last league game against Aston Villa on Sunday, the PA announcer told White Hart Lane all “true Spurs fans” would buy the monthly magazine in addition to a matchday programme. There’s a recession on yet the attitude of most English clubs continues to treat its fans with contempt, as a cash cow that can continually be milked. Continue reading…

It’s About Time

The decision by the Premier League to select Chris Foy as a referee for a fourth division game this weekend (League Two in new money) after he officiated in a home game Manchester United lost, is a demotion that highlights the pressure put on officials at certain grounds. Foy could arguably have given United a penalty against Spurs on Saturday for shirt pulling that was nowhere near as bad as happens in penalty boxes every week, yet that, and the failure to add enough time on for United to win the game (and considering Van Persie’s miss on the day we could still be playing now), seems to have induced a punishment the Premier League say is coincidental.

That the United Manager, Sir Alex Ferguson, was even complaining about a referee decision considering the fortuitous history his side has had in the same fixture over the last ten years in particular due to refereeing, is somewhat laughable. When Howard Webb gave a United a game-changing penalty that never was when Spurs were 2-0 up in the second half at Old Trafford in 2009 he wasn’t demoted three divisions, nor was Mark Clatternberg, either when he failed to give Spurs a deserved winner after failing to see Pedro Mendes had clearly scored in the final minute of the game in 2005, or in 2010 when he allowed a United goal when the ball seemed to be dead. Continue reading…

The Newsroom

Amidst the snappy dialogue, quick one-liners, sometimes silly set-pieces, human interest plot lines, a theme of  internal conspiracy and the occasional awful incidental music, The Newsroom is a welcome programme of substance.

It tackles issues head on, with real news stories, actual footage and, in a refreshing alternative from attempts to satire politics, hard facts and polemic. The early concerns it could be preachy are put to the side when events take over, with stories from the BP oil spill to the shooting of Gabrielle Giffords becoming the real drama.

By the time The Newsroom gets in its stride, the seventh episode, 5/1, has echoes of the greatness of The West Wing, with a superb combination of characters stranded on a grounded plane while the emotion of the breaking news story, the successful mission to find Bin Laden, takes over everywhere.

As the ten episodes progress there is less of the annoying incidental music that assumes its audience as stupid, just as the show the programme is centred on, News Night, matures to treat its views with more respect. And it is the discourse within The Newsroom, from why one courtroom trial is prime time TV ahead of not only a major global economic crisis, but cases that could be exactly the same if not for the way the media, with an agenda, want to present the case, that lets the viewer listen in on intelligent and weighty conversations. Continue reading…

Movers and Shakers

As last week’s Champions League game between Real Madrid and Manchester City opened up in the last quarter, ITV commentator Clive Tyldesley exclaimed “What’s he doing there?” as substitute full-back Paulo Zabaleta found himself in the six-yard box; Tyldesley’s been doing football at the highest level for decades now, with a spell at BBC television in between his second spell at ITV, but it seems he still hasn’t come to terms with the concept of passing and movement. Continue reading…

Britain’s Outside Right

Mark Perryman reviews Daniel Trilling’s new book on the British far right.

Daniel Trilling has been for some time one of the few mainstream political journalists to take the British Far Right seriously. While at various moments anti-fascism has been a galvanising force for wide sections of the Left, the centre ground has too often been dominated by the wish that if only the BNP’s opponents would ignore them then the BNP and others like them would go away. Trilling’s achievement is to confront the dangers of this passivity and reveal the frightening consequences of leaving the Far Right to their own hateful and violent devices.

Bloody Nasty People is an ambitious mix of journalism, investigation and political analysis. The journalism mainly consists of spending time with a number of key figures on the Far Right. The culture of those drawn to Fascism remains largely a mystery to their opponents, and more particularly the milieu of casual support and voters that the BNP in particular at its height was able to mobilise. In an earlier period, the mid to late 1970s, Martin Walker produced the definitive account of the resistible rise of the National Front. Brilliantly written, Walker’s book The National Front read like a spinechilling thriller as he detailed how a neo nazi fringe moved into a position of becoming a mass movement focussed on anti-immigration and repatriation. Trilling seeks to equal the to-date unmatched achievement of Walker’s book and he comes admirably close. Continue reading…

Power in a Union

Last night Newcastle fought back to get a 2-2 draw with Everton in an entertaining game that had a brilliant opening goal from Leighton Baines after a free-flowing move, two clinical equalizers from the substitute Demba Ba and the farcical minute when the home side weren’t given a goal despite the ball being over the line before the referee stopped play instead of playing advantage as Newcastle looked to be through on goal when breaking.

As the host of Monday Night Football, Ed Chamberlin, said, it was the game of the weekend. But the main reason it will rightly be remembered was for the tribute to the victims of Hillsborough. Continue reading…

Leonard Cohen, Wembley Arena (9 Sept 2012)

In her first piece for The Substantive, Simone Webb reviews the return to the London stage of Canadian singer-songwriter Leonard Cohen.

Every time I set out to write this review, it sounded increasingly pretentious, as a result of my elaborate attempts both to express my feelings at last night’s Leonard Cohen concert and to mimic the style of other reviews. (You know – “pithy opening line, personal anecdote related to the artist performing, background information, etc, etc, quips, pithy closing line”. The Telegraph even managed to end their review with a truly appalling pun: “this remains a country for old Len”.) I’m not sure it’s much use my trying to do both those things at once, so I’ll stick with trying to express my feelings, and leave the puns and frills to other reviewers.

I can truly say, with no hint of exaggeration, that seeing Leonard Cohen perform at the Wembley Arena was one of the most beautiful experiences of my life so far. Continue reading…



Copyright © 2004–2009. All rights reserved.

RSS Feed. This blog is proudly powered by Wordpress and uses Modern Clix, a theme by Rodrigo Galindez.