Is this one of the most divinesublime pieces of music ever written? Well I think so....
I happened upon this again a few days ago and it took me right back to the days when I was obsessed with these guys. I saw them live many times and each show was almost theatre. This piece still sounds breathtakingly beautiful. Her voice has to be one of the most interesting that's ever been in terms of character, colour and sheer goddamn originality. Ok, I know I sound like a saddo, but have a listen and you'll see what I mean.
Is this one of the most divinesublime pieces of music ever written? Well I think so....
Crazy busy this weekend doing a lot of cultural activities, and what a privilege it was. Apart from seeing The Merchant of Venice at Stratford upon Avon, driving around the stunning Welsh countryside feeding horses and generally breathing gulpfulls of unpolluted air, we also went to see the spectacular Mercury Rev at the Roundhouse in Camden and what a treat that was. I have been worried about them a bit as they have been very quiet of late and I'd sort of assumed they were on the decline, especially seeing as this tour is based around their 12 year old album Deserter's Songs, but I was SO wrong. If anyone reading this is not aware of these guys, try out this album before the others. It is a magical, dream blasting epic wall of sound. I've always thought of them as an American male version of the Cocteau Twins, so if you liked them.......
The melancholy track Holes is one of my all time favourite songs in the wolrd, as well as Delta Sun Bottleneck Stomp, oh yes and Funnybird. Just listen to some samples on Amazon first, you'll see what I mean. Check out `Music Man Jonesy's review of the album below - he tells it like it is! The next album to try if you like that is All is Dream .......
By Music Man "Jonesy"
This review is from: Deserter's Songs (Audio CD) Not sure how you explain this CD to people not familiar with Mercury Rev. Brilliant, Innovative, Defined, Inspirational, Refreshing............all would be appropriate adjectives. But that still doesn't get across the true essence of the Band. My introduction to MR was the track "Holes" which was on a compilation disc given away with a music magazine. It sounded so different and enchanting that I had to explore them more. When I bought and listened to this CD, I was completely taken aback by the sheer beauty and uniqueness of their approach to writing and producing.
Jonathan Donahue has a voice that often sounds as if he is about to go off key but never does. He keeps an edgy side to his vocals that make you feel both uneasy and consumed at the same time. Quite simply it works so well with the material they write. And what material. The songs and arrangements on this CD are sumptuous and beauty personified. It really takes you by the hand and leads you to another land........zone even. The unusual instrumentation, at times sounding like ethereal garden saws crying in the wind of some enchanted forest. I told you it wasn't easy to describe.
This is music on a much larger and grander stage. It is almost like a fairy tale melding with high class ballet. Close your eyes and it does far more for the imagination than any mind warping drugs. Absolutely brilliant. This is the sort of escapism that really makes you forget stress, bad times or sad times. Each track unfolds into something magical. I cannot rate this CD highly enough. This should be in everybody's collection.
I went to see this on Thursday, and what a genius production that was with Patrick Stewart playing Shylock. Set in Las Vegas with Shylock controlling the casino. Launcelot was an Elvis impersonator (interesting puppet analogy there) singing songs throughout, the King of Morocco was a heavyweight boxer with gold sequin shorts and looking very handsome indeed. The casket scene was set as a gameshow similar to Deal or No Deal, but the biggest shift in the interpretation was Portia, played as a southern belle heiress with overtones of Blanche duBois. She was made into a really complex heroine and had a spectacularly eeire descent into madness in the closing scenes. Her perfomance was unforgettable and I want to keep tabs on her work, she was breathtaking. Amazingly it was her debut at the RSC and only just out of the Guildhall. The role of Shylock was underplayed by Patrick Stewart, and for that reason even more disturbing. It is a very uncomfortable play to watch whether you're Jewish or not, I found myself correcting and re-addressing almost continuously the various shifts in anti-semitism of the characters. The play is a mirror.
I love going to the theatre, and go as often as possible. Some productions or perfomances change your life in some way - this did for me. I don't know if it's going on tour or will come to London, but if anyone wants some real meat and two veg theatre - GO!!
A review from the Birmingham Post
Some very interesting reading indeed, about different actors playing the role of Shylock:
Patrick Stewart - RSC
Each time I come to Shylock, I come with a different perspective. The last time I played him, it was as a very brutal and angry man, a man not overly sensitive to the world around him, to his daughter, to Antonio. This time, I have found an individual who is more open and sensitive, still vengeful and angry but with seemingly more options.
One thing that has been the same in every experience is that somehow, in the company of actors, you find yourself being treated as an outsider: I've never been teased and made fun of more than I have on those occasions. People gang up on you when you play Shylock. But what keeps you coming back to him is that he has some of the most interesting, colourful and idiosyncratic language in Shakespeare. Nobody else speaks like Shylock. It sets him apart. And this was the brilliance of Shakespeare: he was the first writer to create character out of language.
Antony Sher Royal Shakespeare Company, 1987-1988
If you're Jewish, you can't avoid being interested in Shylock: it's a terrific part in a very difficult play. Shakespeare writes him in three dimensions: the great "Hath not a Jew eyes" speech is a wonderful cry of pain from an oppressed man, but when he flips, and becomes unreasonable in the trial scene, the man who has been persecuted becomes the persecutor. That is a syndrome that has fascinated me all my life because of my South African upbringing.
The opening scene with Antonio, where Shylock has to be polite to this person who despises him and whom he despises, reminded me of growing up in apartheid South Africa, the way black people would have to hold in their true feelings when dealing with their white "masters". In rehearsal, we used apartheid as an example of violent prejudice. Although I had encountered mild antisemitism in my own life, I found it much stronger than anything I had experienced as a Jew.
Our production really emphasised the antisemitism of the Christians: they abused and spat at Shylock. I had an awful lot of other actors' saliva in my beard, and when it's your own beard you really want to shampoo it all off. So there was no question of the play itself being antisemitic – because you could see how badly this Jewish man was being treated. You saw him being pushed to a level of revenge that is understandable, even if it is ugly.
Desmond Barrit Chichester Festival Theatre, 2003
My first thought when I was asked to play Shylock was, "But I don't look Jewish!", which is bizarre. We all have our ideas of what a Jewish person should look like, and probably most of those ideas are antisemitic. Then I got my costume, the items of dress that orthodox Jewish men wear. I looked in the mirror and thought: "I'm Jewish." I realised that Jewish men are defined by what they're wearing, as opposed to what they look like themselves, and that "uniform" is at the root of antisemitism.
But I don't think it's an antisemitic play. It's the opposite: it's the loner against the rest of the world. Shylock is in the minority and he's being victimised. Such is the nature of the piece that, when we started rehearsing, I felt outside of everything. I felt that I was being alienated by the rest of the cast, that I wasn't being included in social activities. It was the nearest I've got to feeling everything about a character during the rehearsal period.
Henry Goodman National Theatre, 1999
It's important to understand that the play is set in a mercantile environment, hence all the issues it raises about money and what is of value in life. One of the necessities of capitalism is that everybody needs everybody else to do business. Playing Shylock, I was made alert to his humour: he has a carapace of surface geniality, which comes from hiding a lot of hate, frustration and bile; but his civilities are also an attempt not to let the people around him destroy his faith in himself and his religion. He is a dysfunctional human being, but I don't think he is aggressive on a daily basis. When pushed, the horrors that are deep inside him come out, because of the way he's treated socially and because of the flaws within himself.
What's exciting in a role like this, as with Lear or Richard III, is to try to show that this man is capable of tenderness and compassion, but has good reason to behave appallingly. If you try to make him sympathetic, you won't show the ugliness of his behaviour.
Paul Rider Derby Theatre, 2011
You play Shylock with trepidation, because there is so much inherited baggage. The pound of flesh that Shylock demands is central to your understanding of the play, but why does he pursue that to the bitter end? As I worked on it, I found I understood: he's a widower; his daughter steals from him and marries a gentile; and he's left with this void, which he fills with the most negative of emotions, revenge. It didn't make him any more pleasant a man, but a very human man, subject to all the fallibilities that humans are prey to.
I think the play is antisemitic, because of all the things that are said to him as a Jew and done to him as a Jew; but the more vile the Christians are in their behaviour towards Shylock, the more that reflects back upon them. In the "Hath not a Jew eyes" speech, Shylock compares himself to the Christians. The great tragedy is that he chooses to behave as badly as they have towards him. He's a charismatic character who lets himself down.
Angus Wright Royal Shakespeare Company, 2008
My preconceptions of Shylock were overturned by playing him. I realised the "Hath not a Jew eyes" speech isn't a pleasant manifesto for living together. It's not about an equality of liberal humanism – it's about an equality of revenge. I found that darkness in him fascinating. How do you play the part honestly, without pandering to liberal sensibilities?
The challenge for an audience, since the Holocaust, is to deal with a villain who is a Jew, and that isn't easy. Shylock should really be a small part – he's in only five scenes – but he breaks the confines of the play. There is something about his language, about the way he expresses himself in the face of incredible opposition and hatred and disgust, that makes an audience prick up its ears.
Well it is now the first day after the Open and my intention is to watch Columbo - if possible, all day long. I've just posted up some more hilarious photos of the beautiful LoveJordan guys giving a more, erm, extensive impersonation session at my studio on Saturday. I loved the pictures so much I have given them their own page. Go to `Ducks' and it's the third sub-section down, I think they're both naturals....
It was a great four days, tiring, but really good fun. Thanks so much to everyone who came and all the booze that you brought! There were some wonderful comments in my visitors book too - you know who you are! ;-)
The response was great to the ducks with some really interesting and helpful comments.
Anyway, back to the wonderful LoveJordan combo, they are a really supremely gifted outfit, using all manner of different media - check out their work, I completely love them and it.
Ok - I'm off to watch the bad Lieutenant........`oh and just one more thing.......'
It was great yesterday at the Open, lots of really good feedback. A lady who used to work at the Wildlife and Wetlands Trust made the divine comment "they're SO ducks". I dunno, maybe it was because I'd had a few glasses of red, or maybe because I was feeling a little sentimental sitting amongst them after the full on slog of getting the two shows together in such a short space of time, but it rather moved me - I want her to be my friend.
I took this yesterday of Sam Jordan at the studio and Marilyn. He was doing impersonations of the duck expressions and it was SO goddamn funny, very difficult to keep the camera still while he did it we were laughing so much. I would like to get a page together on my site just of his impressions, it was absolutely hysterical - just need his permission! But here's one for starters....(without his perm
Wimbledon Art Studios opens its doors tomorrow at 2pm until 10pm, same hours again on Friday. 11am until 6pm on Saturday and Sunday. I am in Studio 228 - come see me and let's share a glass of wine!
Wimbledon Art Studios
Riverside Road, London, SW17 0BB
Tel: 020 8947 1182
Nearest Station: Earlsfield
For more information visit: www.wimbledonartstudios.co.uk
Happy birthday to the ground breaking and profoundly inspirational Martha Graham. I absolutely LOVE the Google celebration of her today. Let us not forget this great woman - see below just three of her extraodinary quotes:
All things I do are in every woman. Every woman is Medea. Every woman is Jocasta. There comes a time when a woman is a mother to her husband. Clytemnestra is every woman when she kills.
You are unique, and if that is not fulfilled, then something has been lost.
Our arms start from the back because they were once wings.
She is an inspiration to all art forms.
So this morning, at 9.30am I hung my show of ducks at The Palmerston. It is their maiden voyage - their first public outing as t'were, apart from the Open Studios that is. They have come a long way since I first started them last summer. There are 19 paintings, some abstracts, but the majority are ducks..... I really like the way they look in there, the antique oak panelling is beautiful and classic, and I wasn't at all sure how the paintings would sit on it, but they really do look quirky and cool. I am happy :-)
I can't believe what an electrifying work of utter genius this album is every time I hear it. It cuts through the fuzz of daily grey like a lightening bolt. Maybe the most exhilirating music ever made? For me absolutely. Working in the studio today listening to this, it made me wince at my lack of daring in my artwork. It shouted at me! Did I read somewhere it's the 40th anniversary of this album? Astonishing, it could have been written yesterday, or 20 years from now...