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Sunday, 31 October 2010

Film - Africa United - directed by Debs Gardner-Paterson

Star rating – 6/10

Being billed as this year’s ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ probably does this film no real favours. But as a feelgood movie which also tries to deal with some hard hitting social issues, it is hard not to like it. It is the story of three kids from Rwanda whose dream it is to get to the World Cup opening ceremony in South Africa so that one of their number, Fabrice, can represent his country there.

The child actors in the piece are extremely good, with star billing going to Eriya Ndayambaje as Dudu, the pint sized manager of his budding football prodigy friend. So they run away with Dudu’s sister Bea to go to the trials in Kigali, only to discover they have taken to wrong bus and ended up in the Congo. And so their 3,000 mile adventure to reach South Africa begins. It is not all believable, by any stretch of a vivid imagination, but you want to go along for the ride anyway.

It does not shy away from some of the more hard hitting themes from the countries they cross, such as HIV/AIDS; children used in the sex trade; and child soldiers. There are two particularly affecting performances from Sherry Silver as the girl escaping prostitution, and from Yves Dusenge as the former boy soldier trying to escape his shady past, and feeling racked with guilt at some of the things he has done.

This synergy of serious social issues with the more lighthearted football story does not entirely work. And I didn’t particularly like the animated sequences when Dudu told his stories to the group to entertain and keep their spirits up. But overall I did enjoy the film, and particularly the funny and wise before his years Dudu. So not another ‘Slumdog’ but a good and enjoyable effort all the same.

Saturday, 30 October 2010

Film - The Social Network - directed by David Fincher

Star rating – 8/10

This is the cautionary tale of how the world’s youngest billionaire created his Facebook empire, but lost his only friend in the process; of how money can’t necessarily buy you love, and the value of loyalty. Nerdy Mark Zuckerberg, played wonderfully well with an acerbic smart wit and just the right degree of Asbergic edge, by Jesse Eisenberg, is a Harvard undergraduate when in 2003 he comes up with his world changing invention.

The film sets his creation against the backdrop of Zuckerberg being dumped by his smart, pretty girlfriend Erica for being ‘an ass hole’. Rejection is not something he takes in his stride, and after posting some nasty things about her on his blog, he decides to create a pretty misogynistic website called Facemash, which allows his fellow students to rate the pictures of the college girls on the site against each other. After causing the college IT systems to crash due to the stir this site creates, Zuckerberg gets the inspiration to adapt the site into what we now know as Facebook.

He is helped in the fledgling venture by his best (and only) friend Eduardo Saverin, who is convincingly and sympathetically played here by Andrew Garfield, who gives him some start up capital, and becomes the Chief Finance Director. The action takes place partly in flashback to the heady days of Facebook’s inception and stratospheric rise, and partly in the shape of two court room battles as both Saverin, and the wealthy rowers and all round American guys, twins Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss, sue Zuckerberg for millions of dollars for respectively cruelly cutting Saverin out of the Facebook empire, and for stealing and adapting the original idea for a Harvard facebook from the Winklevoss duo.

The script, by the West Wing’s Aaron Sorkin, is fabulous, fast paced, and very funny in places, with clever put down’s by Zuckerberg throughout to anyone whom he considers to be less intelligent than himself, which is pretty much everyone else in the film. There is also a very entertaining turn by the university President when the twins approach him to discipline Zuckerberg for theft – not really the done thing to make such a fuss at Harvard.

It is extremely ironic how the person who invented the biggest social networking site in the world seems to have no social skills, and no friends of his own at all, probably not even any Facebook friends. He thinks his new found wealth and reputation will win Erica back, but she has more scruples, and principles than that – go Erica! This is a funny, thought provoking and highly entertaining film. The central performances are pitch perfect, including a great contribution from Justin Timberlake as the successful and ruthless Napster founder and flashy entrepreneur Sean Parker. You are left with the feeling that Zuckerberg is more than welcome to his billions – as he sits, friendless and lonely reflecting on his empire built on betrayals.

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Film - The Arbor - directed by Clio Barnard

Star rating – 8/10

This is the impossibly sad tale of the life and family of young Bradford playwright Andrea Dunbar, who lived in the roughest part of the notorious Buttershaw estate in Bradford and whose plays ended up being performed at the Royal Court, before being turned into the film ‘Rita, Sue and Bob too!’. Andrea Dunbar died aged 29 of a brain haemorrhage, a tragic end to a life filled with promise but thwarted by alcoholism.

It is also very much the story of Dunbar’s family and friends, and the lives they led following her early death. It is a sorry tale of drug addiction, unemployment, and most of all of a lack of hope for much better. Director Clio Barnard very cleverly uses actors to lip synch the words spoken by the actual people involved. This sounds an odd concept but it works brilliantly. The identify and dignity of those involved is protected, and the actors, particularly Manjinder Virk as Lorraine, are all brilliant. The action also involves scenes from Dunbar’s plays being acted out on the green in the middle of the Arbor, surrounded by the current residents as onlookers.

Andrea obviously had an addictive personality of a kind, using alcohol and bad relationships as a crutch to escape the reality of her life with three children to bring up and not much in the way of parenting skills or real love to offer them, at least not to her eldest daughter Lorraine. Even Andrea’s unusual contact (for Buttershaw at any rate) with middle class culture in the form of the theatre people she met could not save her from the spiral of despair that led to her being in the pub more than at home, leaving her children to fend for themselves or be cared for by the neighbours.

And Lorraine herself follows her mother’s cycle of addiction after she loses her aged 10. Lorraine is mixed race in a community of die hard racists. When a small girl, she has heard her mother tell a friend that she wishes she had never had her, and that she loves her less than her other children, and never gets over the devastation which that lack of love brings. Her life becomes a desperate cycle of drug taking, prostitution, and abuse in unsuitable relationships, until the final tragedy when she is sent to prison for the manslaughter of her two year old son who dies from a methadone overdose. The saddest part of the film is listening to the foster parents grieving for the little boy, and the love they were able to give to Andrea’s children and this baby without wanting anything in return.

This is a very hard film to watch. It is in no way sentimental about Dunbar or her family. It pulls no punches. It is particularly hard for someone like myself who works in the social housing sector to watch without asking some very fundamental questions about how communities come to this; how professional intervention has often failed; and to wonder what the coming regime of cuts and austerity will mean for communities like Buttershaw and people like Andrea and Lorraine Dunbar. Social exclusion is more than a buzz phrase for housing professionals and community workers. If you are not sure what it means – just go and see this film.

Saturday, 23 October 2010

Books - The Long Song - Andrea Levy

Star rating – 8/10

Andrea Levy’s excellent Booker short listed novel ‘The Long Song’ tells a familiar story, but from an oft neglected perspective. Her concern is with the system of slavery in the Caribbean, and her narrator is July, born a female slave and now looking back on her experiences with honesty, humour, and a sometimes imperfect memory. Levy uses a clever device of other characters, such as July’s grown up son Thomas, questioning the story and the storyteller throughout to ensure that the whole tale is told.

July was born to a slave who had been raped by one of the white massas, and is heartbreakingly taken from her mother when she is just nine years old at the whim of the plantation owner’s sister. Caroline Mortimer sees July when out riding in her carriage, and finds her just too adorable to resist. She is gathered up and taken away like a doll to amuse Caroline, and obviously also to be her house servant and answer to her beck and call for the rest of her life. Caroline calls her ‘Marguerite’ as it is a proper name in her opinion, so she is even robbed of the name her mother gave to her, and her mother is cruelly left to mourn the loss of her little girl without complaint.

Levy’s story is a real page turner, fast paced and engaging. The reality of the lives of the slaves is shocking as they are routinely whipped, hit, abused and more by the white plantation owners and their overseers. There is a terrible sadness about the events that unfold, and the almost unbearable cruelty of the system of slavery and the people who perpetuated it is staggering.

The heartbreak of July’s early separation from her mother is repeated in her own experience, as her beautiful baby girl is also taken from her by trickery. But it is not all heartbreak by any means. This is a tale of strength and fighting back as well as of terrible poverty, insensitivity and inhumanity among the planter community to their negro slaves. Levy tells how the slaves bite back, when the system is abolished by the King of England himself. They quickly learn how to use their bargaining power to their best advantage, and sometimes, but not always, succeed in getting one over their former owners.

This is a great book, not having read all the other Booker short listed entries I can’t say if it should have won this time, but I can say that I certainly enjoyed it immensely, and a lot more than last years successful entrant ‘Wolf Hall’.

Friday, 22 October 2010

Manchester Literature Festival - Jeanette Winterson - Manchester Sermon

Star Rating – 7/10

Why did I end up with a strange mix of lesbians and Church of England vicars in Manchester Cathedral on a wet Thursday evening I hear you cry? Actually I was asking myself the same question. The reason I was there is that I felt that I really should make the effort to attend at least one event from the Manchester Literature Festival programme – avid reader as I am. And this event featuring Jeanette Winterson was the only one I could actually make.

I have not read any of her books (a major admission I know) but I have read articles she has written and seen her speak often on the TV, and found her engaging, so I thought it was worth a punt. I didn’t bargain for the choir singing evensong before her sermon, or the rather patronising introduction by the Dean of the Cathedral, (at least I think that is who he was), preaching to us before Jeanette took to the stage, and even telling the audience not to applaud at the end of Jeanette’s piece as that was not the done thing in church – priceless!

So I was getting more and more concerned that I had made the wrong choice of evening’s entertainment and really should be hugging a large glass of Chianti in a small bar instead, but I was at the furthest point that you could get in the cathedral from the door so I had to stay put and grumble. But then Jeanette took the floor, and she was captivating. She spoke for around 20 minutes about how today’s values and the worship of money, consumerism, and celebrity were damaging us all. She referred unashamedly to the Bible story of the last temptation of Christ as the centrepiece of her sermon. The language she weaved her sermon around was thought provoking, lush, full, funny and totally entertaining.

She cast each page of her text aside on the floor as she had finished with it, so that she was surrounded by a sea of beautiful words. We heard of the heritage of Manchester itself – Cottonopolis – and how the city itself had worshipped the creation of wealth of the detriment of its soul. She brought us bang up to date with cautionary tales of greedy bankers and insincere leaders – ‘Tony Blair anyone?’. Temptations to destroy our souls indeed. She is a true wordsmith and I thoroughly enjoyed listening to every word she spoke.

But then we had the lesbian vicar of Burnage as the mistress of ceremonies – although why she felt the need to mention her sexuality I am not sure. She invited us to join in a question and answer session with Jeanette and other assorted panel members as ‘participation partners’. Please… The only partnership I wanted at that stage was one with the aforementioned small bar – so I snuck off to Tom’s Chop House with Jeanette’s wonderful words ringing in my ears.

Sunday, 17 October 2010

Film - Made in Dagenham - directed by Nigel Cole

Star rating 9/10

Made in Dagenham is what you call a ‘feelgood movie’ – but the difference between it and the other films usually put in this genre is that is really does make you feel good, whilst telling an important story in our country’s economic and political history, and a vital one for the position of its women.

This is the true story of the 1968 strike by women machinists at Ford’s Dagenham plant, only 187 in number, and not at all happy with the fact that their jobs have been downgraded to unskilled status, alongside the cramped, hot, and leaky roofed conditions they have to endure. It does not claim to be a wholly accurate account of every detail of the dispute - that would not make a great feature film. Instead, the story of the women’s fight, initially for the reinstatement of their previous status, then for equal pay for all women doing the same job as men, uses an amalgam of the real women involved to tell their story through some great fictional characters.

Chief of these is their reluctant leader Rita O’Grady, who at the start of the film does not have enough confidence to properly confront a bullying teacher over his over eager use of the cane on her son’s hands. But Rita soon finds the confidence to lead and inspire the women to an all out strike. Sally Hawkins is marvellous as Rita, who quietly puts her persuasive arguments across to successively bigger audiences, culminating in her addressing a trade union conference and winning a majority of their votes for the women’s cause.

Miranda Richardson is excellent as the feisty Barbara Castle, tackling Ford’s American bosses and her own colleagues and advisors at the same time. She wants the women to compromise more than they are prepared to do, so it is Castle who ends up graciously backing down and supporting the strike and equal pay demands through to the 1970 legislation that led to changes in policy all over the industrialised world.

The union officials are deliciously and predictably spineless and self serving, using their position to treat themselves to frequent meals in the luxury of a Bernie Inn, no less. There is a great supporting cast amongst the machinists, including wonderful performances by Geraldine James and Andrea Riseborough. And the fashions are simply fabulous. Rosamund Pike, who plays the unhappy and unfulfilled trophy wife of one of the Ford bosses is also great. And no, the tentative friendship that she strikes up with Rita probably would not have happened. But to be so picky just misses the point of this whole film.

Made in Dagenham is funny, serious, inspiring, uplifting and easy on the eye. And it has a great message – stand up for and fight for what you believe in, and for what you know to be right. Feelgood movies don’t get much better than this.

Saturday, 16 October 2010

Theatre - The Lady From the Sea - Royal Exchange

Star rating – 8/10

Henrik Ibsen certainly had very forward thinking views about free will, the position of women, and marriage, as expressed in his 1888 play, ‘The Lady From the Sea’, which has now been adapted to great effect by David Eldridge.

It is the story of Ellida, who grew up in a lighthouse and developed a deep and binding love for, and connection with, the sea. She is now married to a doctor, Wangel, and lives far away from the ocean in a small town by the fjords. He has two daughters by his first marriage, his first wife having died before he remarried the young and fragile Ellida.

From the moment that Ellida takes to the stage, and there are not many moments of the play when she does not occupy its centre, Neve McIntosh portrays her fragility, and strangeness with incredible accuracy and emotion. She is dreamlike in her speech and actions. Her husband is so concerned for her mental health that he asks a specialist and former tutor of his daughters to come to visit to give his opinion. The problem is that the former tutor, Arnholm, is sure that Wangel has really asked him there to propose to his elder daughter Bolette. Cue predictable mixed messages – but the outcome is not quite so predictable.

Ellida’s melancholy takes a very dramatic turn when she firstly reveals to her husband the nature of a bond she had to a sailor before she met him, and then rises to a crescendo when the same sailor turns up to claim her and take her back to the sea. The key to the outcome of the drama is the recognition that human beings can only really make a valid choice when they are given the free will to do so.

The other stand out part in the play for me is the younger Wangel daughter, Hilde, played wonderfully by Catrin Stewart. Hilde is a total drama queen, starved of affection following the death of her mother, and imagining dramatic scenarios that she feels would be simply splendid, such as being a young beautiful widow in black crepe. She is funny and candid, too candid for her family at times, but adds a touch of welcome light to the dark shades of her stepmother’s dilemma.

This is a fabulous drama, with more than a touch of Anna Karenina in the situation Ellida finds herself in, but Wangel is no Karenin. He is able to put personal desires aside out of respect for her and her needs, an unusual thing for a husband to do for a wife, particularly given the time the play was written in. This a wonderful play that makes great use of lighting rather than relying on too many props and scene changes to get its message across to the enraptured audience, with a sparkling central performance from Neve McIntosh.

Books - To the End of the Land - David Grossman

Star rating – 7/10

The fact that is known before you start this novel is that David Grossman’s own son was killed fighting in the Israeli army during the writing of it. It is hard to imagine how he endured such personal pain and still managed to write about matters very close to that loss, and so it is important to judge the novel in its own right, rather than through the prism of this tragedy, even though this loss very probably changed it’s structure and narrative immensely.

The novel is in part a love triangle between three people. We are introduced to them as children in an isolation hospital in Israel. The girl, Ora, is understandably scared to be in such a lonely place, and is befriended by the charming and sociable Avram. He introduces her to his altogether more withdrawn friend Ilan, but surprisingly it is Ilan that Ora subsequently marries and raises a family with.

The context of the novel, takes place when the three have grown up and faced many challenges, both personal and national, and Ora’s youngest son Ofer is about to rejoin the Israeli army, having voluntarily put his name forward for extended service after the period of his conscription is over. The act is seen by his mother as one of defiance and total stupidity. She cannot bear to wait at home and wonder when a knock at the door will bring news of his demise, her husband and eldest son, Adam, having left her, and so she embarks on a journey to escape the bad news she dreads will inevitably come.

She undertakes a journey from her home in Jerusalem to walk across Israel to Galilee, and takes a very reluctant Avram, whom she has not seen for a long time, along with her almost against his will. And it is via the device of Ora recounting her story, and that of her family, to Avram that the novel unfolds. Grossman has tremendous descriptive powers. He uses flashback to reveal some stunning truths about what really happened in the depths of her family, and between the triangle of Avram, herself and Ilan.

She reveals what Avram has always suspected but never dared to confront, that Ofer is really his son, even though he was raised by Ilan. The way that Avram shifts gradually along the walk from a position of not wanting to hear any details about him, and even refusing to engage in conversation with Ora about him, to one of interest, warmth and love, is very heart warming and cleverly done. But for me, the walk does go on a little too long without any real resolution to some of the issues hinted at along the way. We are left not really knowing the answers as to why some key things happened, or indeed to what the outcome of others will be. The walk reveals details very slowly, and sometimes they are still somewhat sketchy after the telling. But some of Grossman’s narrative is truly emotional, such as the relationship between the two sons Ofer and Adam as they were growing up and how they helped each other out of their own personal challenges much more effectively than their mother could.

This is not an overtly political novel, and some of the themes that are hinted at could perhaps been developed more than Grossman does, but we are left in no doubt as to the author’s views of war. More powerful is the theme of the importance of family, and the strength of parental love, in this case as expressed by Ora, in the life of a child. A moving, and very interesting story - with the backdrop of the author’s personal tragedy looming large within it.

Theatre - Lower Ninth - Donmar at Trafalgar Studios

Star rating – 7/10

It is great to see successful theatres like the Donmar doing their bit to encourage new directors as they are doing with this series of plays in the small Trafalgar Studios on Whitehall And to be honest it is much more enjoyable to watch than some of their previous forays out of Covent Garden when their aim was somewhat higher. I recall, for example, with some pain it has to be said, seeing Dame Judi Dench in Madame de Sade last year in the West End, which was a travesty of a play despite its stellar cast.

The young director in question here is Charlotte Westenra, tackling a play written by Beau Willimon whose setting is a rooftop in New Orleans surrounded by the flood waters after Hurricane Katrina. The drama is basically a two hander between two men who are stranded on the roof without much at all in the way of basic supplies as the toxic flood waters rise. They have the body of a friend of theirs, Lowboy, on the roof for company.

Both the main actors are excellent – with demanding, almost unbroken dialogue for the whole of the piece. Anthony Welsh plays E-Z, whose full name is the rather more biblical Ezekiel, the young man whose mother has died some time previously, and whose partner Malcolm, came back to help care for her and her son. Welsh is as impressive here as he was in the excellent ‘Sucker Punch’ at the Royal Court this summer – his youthful anger, fear and vitality shining through the impossible situation he is in. Ray Fearon plays Malcolm, the former deserter of his partner, who came back after finding God, and whose bible is the cause of much friction between the two men on the rooftop. Fearon gives another powerful and convincing performance – as indeed he did as Walter in ‘A Raisin in the Sun’ at the Royal Exchange in January.

The relationship between Malcolm and E-Z is very touching, going from comedy with a tense game of 20 questions, to anger, and finally loving support and self sacrifice. And I am not giving too much away to say that Lowboy himself rises from the dead to add to the dramatic tension, as the actor’s name is on all the posters anyway. The small space is perfectly suited to the forced intimacy of the watery roof top prison.

My problem with the play is that, save a joke about George W Bush aside, it does not go anywhere near the politics of the situation the men find themselves in. It does not even attempt to tackle why they are there, and what has happened to their city. This is for me a real missed opportunity. Having said that however, it is a really enjoyable and thoughtful play, which is extremely powerfully acted, and a refreshing 90 minutes long. So full marks to the Donmar – a great experiment which other theatres should follow.

Thursday, 7 October 2010

Theatre - Hamlet - National Theatre

Star rating – 9/10

Any actor worth his salt has to have a bash at Hamlet – or so the general expectation seems to be. And these are certainly big shoes to fill. There have been many recent celebrated Hamlets, from Jude Law to David Tennant. And a production starring John Simm is also currently playing in Sheffield, so there is a lot of room here for comparison. My own previous Hamlet experience was seeing Christopher Eccleston play the role some years ago at the West Yorkshire Playhouse in Leeds and as you might have expected he was fabulous.

But Rory Kinnear makes the famous role his own in this excellent production directed by Nicholas Hytner at the National. He is not a household name yet but I predict that his star will be very much in the ascendancy following this outstanding performance. It must be tricky as an actor knowing that a large proportion of the audience will know the play very well, and have their own expectations of how every line should be delivered. Kinnear plays the changing moods of Hamlet very well, from the humour, to the cruelty, the despair of losing his father in such terrible circumstances, to madness and the lust for revenge over his uncle the new King.

Hytner’s production is set in modern day, with Hamlet as a hoodie for some of the action. The staging of the play is brilliant, with the effective scene changes in Vicki Mortimer’s clever set design looking effortless but involving most of the cast at the same time.

At 3 hours 35 minutes this is not for the faint hearted. But it didn’t seem so long at all – in large part due to the ease of watching Kinnear glide through this epic performance. Mention must also be made of the two female parts, which are traditionally viewed as something of a poisoned chalice for actors. Ruth Negga was very moving as the tragic Ophelia, who literally went off her trolley by pushing a shipping trolley manically around the stage as she loses her grasp of reality. Clare Higgins is also great as Hamlet’s mother, the ill fated Gertude, who has unwittingly married her husband’s murderer.

This production really gets the point of the play, and cleverly uses light and shade in the form of humour with the darkness to illustrate it. And Kinnear deserves all the praise which he will surely get for the way he makes this plum role his own.

Friday, 1 October 2010

Theatre - Henry IV Part 2 - Globe Theatre

Star rating – 7/10

After the excellent first part of this tale earlier in the summer I was hoping for great things from this second instalment. I’m not quite sure if it was the torrential downpour for most of the play that drowned out a lot of the voices; or the length of time that had elapsed since I saw the first part; or just the fact that I was feeling under the weather, but this did not quite live up to the sparkle of its predecessor for me.

Roger Allam is again brilliant as the comic Falstaff, who is more concerned with eating, drinking and womanising, than going to fight for the cause of his supposed friend and master Prince Henry and his father the King Henry IV. He is really very funny and plays to the crowd in an outrageously comic manner.

Barbara Marten is also wonderful as Mistress Quickly, who is intent on having Falstaff arrested for breach of promise (to marry her) and failure to pay his not insignificant debt to her. But she is won round by his charm and seems to be surprisingly unfazed by Falstaff’s wooing of her daughter Doll instead.

The politics are a bit hard to follow, but basically Northumberland and the Archbishop of York both plotting the old King’s downfall. Falstaff continues to evade any meaningful service for the duration of the play – and rightly gets his comeuppance in the end. So for me this had the feel of a bit of a strung out drama, which would possibly have been better condensed into one play – but who am I to argue with the bard. But full marks to the poor people in the courtyard who stuck it out for the whole play and got horrendously drenched. Just like in Shakespeare’s time I’m sure – but there are some lengths I refuse to go to for the sake of authenticity.

Gigs - I Am Kloot - Bristol Thekla

Star rating – 9/10

This gig was held in a great and unique venue – on a boat called Thekla in Bristol docks. I could have sworn it swayed but I was assured it was firmly moored – no matter. At a capacity of around 500, I Am Kloot performed what was a very intimate but very lively set. John Bramwell had a nice easy rapport with the crowd, who were obviously mostly long time Kloot devotees rather than first timers like me. Despite being full of a cold and comically forgetting the set list a couple of times at the start of the show, he quickly got into his stride, along with the excellent regular band members Andrew Hargreaves on drums and Peter Jobson on bass, and three accomplished accompanying musicians who added keyboards and a brass section.

During the long set IAK treated their adoring fans to songs from their back catalogue, and showcased their brilliant latest album ‘Sky at Night’. Beautiful songs such as Northern Skies; To the Brink; Lately; and I Still Do demonstrated that this powerful, orchestral album, produced by Guy Garvey from Elbow, translates wonderfully to a live performance.

There are several obvious recurring themes in Bramwell’s sensitive lyrics – drinking and despair; mental illness and depression; love, and the vastness of the sky. He opens his soul up to scrutiny in a brave and unusual way, and is not afraid to admit his vulnerability - and the result are some amazingly soulful lyrics given via a powerful delivery. Old favourites such as Proof (which was also given a new lease of life via The Sky at Night), Twist. Bigger Wheels, and Someone Like You were fantastic.

I Am Kloot are the essence of Manchester – they tell it like it is, are not afraid to show their emotions, and are stylish and effortlessly cool. But then I am biased. I also thought Bramwell’s quip to the Bristol crowd was great ‘We really like Bristol. We think you’re weird but we like you!’ Priceless.

There was not much time for a lengthy encore due to the 10pm curfew ( which was fine with me on a school night) – but they finished a great evening with ‘Same Clowns, Same Shoes’. I Am Kloot have been my discovery of the summer – don’t ask how I had neglected to notice these fabulous Mancunians for so long - but not any more. I am hooked on the Kloot vibe and will certainly want to repeat this exhilarating live experience with them again soon.