Fleetwood Mac @ Wembley Arena

You may have noticed over the years that I’m not one for going to large stadium gigs. The intimate, smaller venues are almost so much more engaging – and generally a lot cheaper – for most bands that I love. That said, I have been very lucky with the bands I have seen in smaller venues. Sometimes though, you just have to bite the bullet and Friday night was just such a time – to see Fleetwood Mac play Wembley Arena – and I’m very glad I did.

The band came on around 8.30pm and started off quite slowly, with a bit of chat and a few slow songs. Stevie Nicks seemed a bit faltering and the energy was a bit off, but then, suddenly, everything turned around as they belted out hit after hit with barely a pause in between. Lindsay Buckingham did most of the audience interaction for the night, and seemed to be on stage more than any other band member performing a number of solo acoustic versions of classic songs. Never Going Back Again was stunning and moving and Buckingham’s guitarmanship is outstanding. Around an hour in the band was on top form, Nicks seemed to be more comfortable and started engaging more with the audience, and during World Turning we were treated to an extended guitar solo with shouted audience instructions from Mick Fleetwood, which culminated in a turntable/drumming head to head before the rest of the band came back on stage to finish the song.

I don’t think any Fleetwood Mac fan was disappointed, other than by the absence of Christine McVie. They played songs from all stages of their career – even solo efforts from Nicks and Buckingham and, most wonderfully, the blues classic ‘Oh Well’ from their pre Nicks and Buckingham incarnation – with Lindsay carrying off Peter Green’s singing and searing guitar with energy and impact. The only downside on the night was that we were so far back and the video screens were a bit crap, but the energy carried around the arena to keep us hooked. The full set, with no support, was about two and a half hours – three encores – impressive stuff and a wonderful night.

The Imaginarium Opens Tomorrow – Friday 16th

Terry Gilliam’s latest magnum opus, featuring Heath Ledger in his fateful last ever role, is opening tomorrow in cinemas across Britain. The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus is a beautiful gothic fantasy set in modern day London. The story revolves around the mysterious Doctor Parnassus who has the skill to guide your thoughts to reveal your inner imaginary world. Parnassus was once a monk who made a deal with the devil for long life, and many other deals and bets since then, one of which involves the soul of his first child due at the age of 16. Parnassus tried to prevent this by never having a child, but (un)fortunately he did – a daughter played by the sparkling Lily Cole. And so the scene is set for the story.

As Parnassus and travelling show troupe try to save his daughter’s soul they come across Tony, played by Heath Ledger, hanging from Southwark bridge. They save him and he, in turn, acts to save them – or does he? All is not clear as Tony’s character evolves. Along the way Tony finds out about Parnassus’ magic mirror that reflects your innermost mind and enters it himself – and it is here that Terry Gilliam’s genius saved the movie when Heath unfortunately passed away – every time Tony enters the mirror he becomes another actor; Johnny Depp, Jude Law and Colin Farrell all take up the reigns to play the mirror Tony and to great effect.

Go and see this movie. You won’t see much press about it as Terry Gilliam is one of the most talented Directors in the world today but his movies never sit comfortably in the ‘blockbuster’ genre and so marketing departments seem to give up in despair – instead he makes us pay attention to the wonders he creates on screen and use our brains and imaginations to full effect. Parnassus sits with Gilliam’s classic fantastical movies; Time Bandits, Brazil, Baron Munchausen and the Brothers Grimm – all wonderful flights of fancy and visual feasts. More info on the film and a larger copy of this wonderful poster can be found here.

Stephen Fry’s Love Letter to America

This Sunday, for those of us in jolly old Britland, Stephen Fry is embarking on the first episode of his love letter to America – which should be a jolly good watch and probably a lot better than the watered down distress visited on us by Little Britain USA (sorry, Matt and David – it’s not your best work). In a wonderfully long blog post Stephen explains where his fascination with America came from, the near chance that he could have grown up in America had his father but taken a different career decision. Having found this out at age ten the young Stephen, or ‘Steve’ when effecting an American accent, would imagine how his life could have been had this choice been made differently. Now the adult ‘Steve’ Fry gets his chance to share his effusive joy and wonder about the country that might have been his but isn’t thankfully for all us Brits who consider him one of our brightest treasures.

Richard Feynman, Interview with a Genius

Richard Feynman is one of the geniuses of the 20th century, not only winning the Nobel prize for Physics, but also for being able to explain complex physics theories in a manner that even dumb Physics degree students (like me) can understand. Feynman was also involved with developing the bomb at Los Alamos that later went on to destroy Hiroshima, and hearing him talk of his and everyone’s elses’ reaction at the time is somewhat chilling.

This video is only part one of six, all of which should should up in the related videos if you go direct to youTube.

Upcoming: Radiohead interview on Monday 19th

Steve Lamacq over at BBC Radio 6 has an interview with Radiohead this coming Monday – 19th November*. This should be interesting listening, as its their first interview since In Rainbows was released online for the wonderful price of ‘whatever you feel like paying’. Also on that page is a great cover of The Smiths from the Radiohead boys which I’ve embedded below:

* Don’t worry if you miss it on the 19th, you can listen to it on the BBC’s player for a week after that.

And now for something completely different (and old)

Many years ago the Monty Python chaps cames over to the US o’ A to publicize their show for PBS. Luckily for us, an enterprising TV chap kept a small snippet of the interview – featuring Michael Palin, Terry Jones, Terry Gilliam and a mildly inebriated Graham Chapman, all with wonderful 70s hair. Enjoy.

The Monty Python Appreciation Society

Many years ago back at school I founded ‘The Monty Python Appreciation Society’, which impressive as it sounds was in fact just an excuse for a gang of us to borrow the school video and watch episodes of Python at lunchtimes. Ah, the joys of being a geek. To be fair we had more reason than many people, as Terry Jones used to be Head Boy at our school, so there was a tenuous link which was exploited to full, lazy effect.

Now thanks to my birthday present from mum I get to relive those school highlights, since I now have the complete box set of Monty Python to enjoy. Amazingly, aside from a few sketches, it stands the test of time admirably and still makes me laugh out loud. Plus there are the quotes. Mmmm… quoteage.