Month: May 2015

Roy McDonough – Football’s Hard Man

With Colchester United’s ‘Great Escape’ from the dreaded drop down to League Two the other week still fresh in people’s minds, my thoughts turned to events 23 years ago when the U’s were actually relegated out of the football league, only to make a triumphant under Layer Road legend Roy McDonough. So I thought I would give another airing to a post from my personal blog and publish an edited version of my 2012 interview with the big man himself.

Roy McDonough

Of all the players and managers who have come and gone over the years at Colchester United, Roy McDonough is still the one who is remembered most fondly by many fans. He was certainly one of the most charismatic. And controversial.

When I wrote the original post, at the time it was 20 since one of the most memorable seasons in the club’s history, which culminated in the Boys of ’92 earning promotion back into the Football League, along with the little matter of the club’s first ever Wembley appearance. So I had thought with Big Roy’s autobiography Red Card Roy, which he co-wrote with Bernie Friend and which Amazon described as “ …the jaw-dropping story of terrace cult hero Roy McDonough – Britain’s wildest footballer who was sent off a record 22 times in a career of more than 650 games, 100s of goals, thousands of beers and, allegedly, 400 women” being released at the time, it was a good time for a chat with the great man himself.  So I caught up with ‘Big Roy’ in Spain where he and his wife Liz had been living for the past nine years, and where they still live.

Roy’s last competitive game of football was back in 2003 playing for Harwich & Parkeston, where he played two games under former U’s team mate Steve McGavin who, at the time, was the non-league club’s player manager. With his boots finally hung up for the last time a new life in Spain beckoned, and Roy is now enjoying success a second time around as a partner in a Spanish property company.

During a playing career that saw him make over 650 appearances, and score some 150 goals, for a host of professional and non-league clubs including Birmingham City and Southend, with of course two spells at Colchester, Roy earned himself a reputation as one of the game’s ‘hard men’.  Did he model himself on anyone in particular? “Not at all. I think I was a full blooded, honest player who took no prisoners when going for the ball. Everyone should be the same for his team. Roy Keane and Mark Hughes were two of my idols for obvious reasons.”

Roy McDonough

It was a philosophy that saw him earn the record for the most career dismissals, 22 in total, with him being shown 13 of those red cards in the Football League, a record he shares with former Leicester City and Coventry defender Steve Walsh.  Does he think his record will ever be broken? “Probably not,” he says, dismissing the very notion.  “The modern game is full of pussies I’m afraid.”

For U’s fans it was Roy’s second spell at Layer Road as player manager that earned him legendary status and the gratitude of generations of fans. At the end of the 1989/90 season the club had dropped out of the football league into the GM Vauxhall Conference. Roy’s predecessor, Ian Atkins, had failed to get us back into the League at our first attempt, in spite of having a full time squad, and there was a very real fear that we would end up a part time club and never find a way back up.

However, in a moment of brilliance, the board appointed Roy player manager when Atkins, who had brought Roy back from bitter rivals Southend United, departed the club. He then set about putting together a squad to win promotion, and instilled in them the battling mentality needed to get the job done

There was only one other Conference side capable of spoiling the party, Martin McNeill’s Wycombe Wanders, and they quickly became our bitter rivals.

The tight stadium and atmosphere at ‘Fortress’ Layer Road has often been credited with giving the Us an edge at home, well when things were going our way at least. I ask Roy if he thinks it made a difference in our home match with Wycombe that season. 20 years later Roy is was quick to dismiss O’Neill’s efforts: “We didn’t need an advantage, we were far better than them all season! A full Layer Road did create a great atmosphere though.” It’s classic Roy, one of the game’s great characters who liked nothing better than to wind up O’Neill, and never more so than when we were  3 – 0 up in that same game and he looked over at O’Neill on the bench and said to our players “No more goals, let’s play keep-ball”.

“We had to take the mick, it was lovely. Trust me” Roy reminisces, adding that these antics extended to using the local press to rattle O’Neill. “Some herbert who worked for the Gazette was a Wycombe fan, so the odd remark thrown their way didn’t hurt, did it.”

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Roy’s mickey taking would have stung O’Neill all the more when, at the end of the season, it was the Us, and not Wycombe, who were crowned Conference champions. And just to rub his nose it in even further Roy also took us to our first ever Wembley Final in May 1992, and won it in style of course, adding the FA Trophy to the club’s trophy cabinet. It was the town’s biggest ever day out and it seemed like nearly everyone in Colchester made their way by car, coach and train to the famous Twin Towers to see the U’s demolish Witton Albion 3 – 1. It also led to unbelievable scenes in the High Street a couple of days later as 1000s turned out to welcome the team home.

And Roy’s fondest memory of that season? “Winning the Conference the last game of the season.”

But of course.

Colchester United FA Trophy

Fast forward 20 years to 2012… and Roy was back in Colchester for a reunion with the Boys of ’92 squad, including American Mike Masters who had flown in from the US especially for the event. Roy was also inducted into the U’s Hall of Fame, and told me in typical style when I asked him how it felt “Delighted pal. I think the whole team should be in the hall of fame”.

These are a few of my own pictures from our day out at Wembley and the celebrations back in Colchester.

Colchester United Bakers Street

 

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Bus

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TownHall

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And his thoughts on the Weston Homes Community Stadium? “The new stadium is great.” But would the kind of facilities the Us players enjoy these days at the new stadium have helped give the Boys  of ’92 an even greater edge over Wycombe during the epic promotion battle 20 years ago? I’ll let Roy have the final word “To be fair we didn’t need an edge over Wycombe because we easily beat them most times when I was there.”

Red Card Roy by Roy McDonough and Bernie Friend is available on Amazon.

Simon

Simon Crow

Tomorrowland: A World Beyond

If you enjoy that feeling of relaxing on your sofa on a Sunday afternoon, switching on the telly for a second-tier, 1980’s kid’s action adventure sci-fi movie you remember fondly from your own childhood, only to discover that, contrary to your memories, it’s embarrassingly bad then Tomorrowland: A World Beyond is the movie for you.

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Irritating, frustrating, structurally a mess, Tomorrowland (I’m dropping the “World Beyond” coda from this point as it’s just a piece of annoyingly pointless affectation) is not without its good moments but, overall, it is a film you can live without. It’s a kind of Channel 5 Sunday afternoon movie thirty years too early.

Casey Newton (Britt Robertson) is hopeful, an optimist, a dreamer. She’s sabotaging the dismantling of the launch platform at Cape Canaveral and this brings her to the attention of a mysterious younger girl, Athena (Raffey Cassidy). Pre-teen Athena is from Tomorrowland, an alternate dimension full of the sort of stuff that people in the 1950’s thought people in the 21st century would be wearing, using and living in, you know: jet packs, flying cars, litter free cities and everybody is Aryan thin, that kind of thing. Athena slips Casey a badge that allows her to glimpse the tomorrow of Tomorrowland and the two set off to find the only person who can get them there, Frank Walker (George Clooney), the only man ever to be thrown out of Paradise.  Frank was a child prodigy who made it into Tomorrowland because he too was a dreamer, he invented a jet pack that doesn’t quite work but his “Anything’s possible” philosophy allowed him a sneaky, back door “in”. Then there’s a lot of running, a lot of chasing, a lot of blowing stuff up but, unfortunately, there’s very little in the way of plot.

The problem is that all this stuff happens before the film even begins to tell a story, there are no recognisable stakes until about three-quarters of the way in, and when they are explained they’re all a bit vague. The film keeps telling us the future is running out but doesn’t define what this actually means, I’m guessing end of the world, Apocalypse, dogs and cats living together, mass hysteria. Who cares?

Clooney seems miscast. Frank is a cranky, bitter old man who lives alone in his booby-trapped farmhouse full of future tech inventions he refuses to share with the outside world. Basically, Frank is the anti-Clooney. Robbed of his charisma and smile, Clooney struggles and Frank becomes irritating (not to mention the fact that he’s still obsessed with the constantly pre-teen Athena). You know who would have been great as Frank? Who could have really sold this curmudgeon with his crumpled demeanour and burnt out boy genius? Hugh Laurie. Laurie, in fact, plays the charismatic Governor of Tomorrowland, whose only real villainy is to stand by while this dimension’s future runs out. George Clooney would’ve killed this role. Hmm.

Tomorrowland

Britt Robertson, on the other hand and despite looking about ten years too old for the character she’s playing, is very good and I wish she had a better movie to star in, she probably will and deserves to. The fact that Robertson is so good makes it particularly galling that the climax of Tomorrowland sucks so hard. Casey (whose super power is, I kid you not, the power of positive thinking) kind of gets side-lined in the finale; a finale that goes all anti-science and just falls into lazy, clichéd tropes; a finale that gives us one really creepy, uncomfortable moment where it looks like Clooney might actually kiss a nine year old.

There’s a great scene in a nostalgia shop that’s funny, inventive and fun which raises some interesting thematic ideas. But that’s about it, Tomorrowland is shaggy, often corny and mostly boring.

I don’t disagree with some of the things the film is trying to say: Yes, we could do with more optimism in the world; yes, we need to galvanise the young for the future and not make them fear it. But hanging these points in a movie that espouses a super-secret, technologically advanced world that hides its advances from plebeians like us, that only allows entry to the finest minds and thinnest bodies smacks of something unsavoury.

For show times and booking visit Odeon Colchester.

Andy Oliver

Andy Oliver

Mad Max: Fury Road

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There’s been a lot of debate recently about whether or not posh chefs should serve their increasingly avant garde meal on a shovel or in a flat cap or in a bin or whatever. Make no mistake, (director) George Miller doesn’t go in for any of that kind of fancy nonsense, he’s a plain white plate kind of guy, but what he serves up is every bit as exciting as a Michelin starred chef at the top of his game. In an age of blockbusters bloated with artificial computer generated additives, over ripe dialogue, frighteningly calorific exposition and syrup conflict, Mad Max: Fury Road is a refreshing, low fat, high fibre concoction that totally satisfies your stomach-rumbling hunger for a really great action movie.

Following the collapse of civilisation, desert wanderer Max (Tom Hardy) finds himself captured by self-proclaimed god, Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne) and used as a “blood bag” for one of Joe’s Warboys (read “followers”), Nux (Nicholas Hoult). When one of Immortan Joe’s most trusted Generals, Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron) makes a break for freedom (along with five of Joe’s wives), Max finds himself, still intravenously attached to Nux, chained to the front of a pursuit car like a literal figurehead. And that, basically, is all you need to know about the plot. Fury Road is a propulsive, breathless, pounding chase movie that, when it reaches the end of the road, simply about turns and races back again.

Mad Max is the role that launched the global superstardom career of Mel Gibson (or more precisely Mad Max 2, the first movie was largely overlooked in the US where, bizarrely, it was dubbed by American actors), but this time around Max’s mismatched boots are filled by the heir-apparent to Brando’s throne, Tom Hardy. It‘s thirty years since Mad Max Beyond the Thunderdome (the slightly disappointing third Max Movie) and whilst it would have been interesting to see Gibson back as an older Max, the appointment of Hardy has given the franchise a fresh new impetus. Hardy isn’t doing a Mel Gibson impression and the loose continuity of the series allows him to step into Max’s world seamlessly. Hardy’s Max is charismatic and charming, exasperated, baffled and, surprisingly, very funny, many of the best moments of the film are Hardy’s reactions to the chaos in which he’s embroiled.

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But it’s not Hardy’s Max who is the central driving (ahem) force or protagonist of Fury Road, but Charlize Theron’s Furiosa and she is magnificent. Theron plays her with savage ferocity, a warrior who has had enough of the horrors of Immortan’s dictatorship; she’s taking a principled stand, even if it costs her her life. Despite the steampunk hand and the alarming proficiency with firearms, Furiosa always feels like a woman, she never becomes masculinised in a James Cameron kind of way. Her motivations are not vengeance or power, it’s to save the five sex-slave wives of Immortan Joe.

In a lesser movie the wives (played by Zoe Kravitz, Rosie Huntinton-Whiteley, Rylie Keough, Abbie Lee and Courtney Eaton) would all be background noise, showing up to be menaced eye candy ripe for sexual assault. But in Fury Road each one of them has their own character arcs and moments and each reacts to their situation differently. Some cower, some fight, some want to return to the familiarity of their abuse, but all react as humans, not plot devices. “We are not things” is written on the wall of the chamber they have escaped from. And just to upset the whining, man-baby “Meninists” even more, a whole other bunch of female warriors show up, gun-toting, motor-cycle riding, Hell’s Grannies who are equally as amazing.

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Hugh Keays-Byrne’s Immortan Joe is a terrifying figure, a pale, red-eyed, aging warlord in a skeletal, horse-toothed respirator mask and Keays-Byrne sells every bit of his ruthlessness and nastiness. He’s an all-timer great villain every bit as great as Mad Max’s Toecutter (again played by Keays-Byrne) or 2’s hockey-mask horror, Lord Humungous.

But the real star of Mad Max: Fury Road is the action. With very little cgi (well apart from one terrifying, swirling, ferocious sandstorm) you feel every crash, you draw back at every explosion, you wince at the bone-crunching stunt work. It’s full of bonkers imagery: men hanging onto poles mounted on the rear of speeding vehicles, swinging back and forth; a guy playing a double neck guitar (with a flame thrower attached, obviously) on a truck stacked with amplifiers and drummers beating out a battle charge mounted on the back.

You know what’s truly great about Fury Road? Instead of upping the stakes through increased and escalating chaos, 70 year old director Miller ups the stakes via emotion and character arcs. Yes, this film is full of emotion, so full that in one horrific yet moving scene we are even made to feel for Immortan Joe and his terrifying son, Rictus, “A brother. I had a brother!”  It’s also filled with sublimely smart themes, themes like the patriarchy and the myth of the benevolent rich; the perpetual war machine culture; faith, hope and redemption. There are critiques hidden amongst the explosions and touching character moments deftly squeezed in between the crashes. Miller wants it all, he wants the mayhem and excitement of great action movies and he wants the character development and depth of the best science fiction. He wants it all. He gets it all. He gives it all to us.

And, while that action is astonishing, the imagery as mad as a two headed lizard, the world of the Apocalypse harrowing, Mad Max: Fury Road is capital letters F.U.N. It’s a good time. The colours are bright and saturated to the point of popping off the screen. The action is stunning and visceral but rarely cruel. It’s a total blast that will have you punching the air, stomping your feet and shaking in your seat with excitement. If the “Menininists” are right and this is feminist propaganda, then I for one welcome our new female overlords (overladies?).

Check out the show times and even book your seats online at the Odeon

Andy Oliver

Andy Oliver

Down at The Hythe it’s all about people power!

Hythe forward logo

Hythe Forward is the first community land trust (CLT) in Essex with a vision statement to: ‘make the Hythe a safe, attractive and prosperous place to live, work and do business’. Alistair Heron tells us more.

Colchester is well known for being an innovative corner of the country’s most entrepreneurial county. Perhaps, therefore, it’s no surprise to find that we’re home to the very first community land trust (CLT) in Essex – Hythe Forward.

 

 

Aerial

CLT’s are democratic not-for-profit organisations, accountable to the Financial Conduct Authority. With priorities decided by their membership, they’re all about driving the ‘right kind’ or regeneration’ in line with what’s needed locally. Hythe Forward has defined its three key aims as stimulating commerce and enterprise, the provision of affordable family housing and developing high quality public space.

The Hythe picture

The Hythe is a name that resonates in Britain’s oldest town, having been its industrial engine room for many years. Now, with the port long closed, it’s probably best known for what’s not there and for an ever growing number of buy-to-let flats springing up along its riverbanks. According to Hythe Forward’s Vice Chair, Alistair Heron, these challenges are precisely what inspired the CLTs board to get to work:

 

“Many  local people, and indeed the council, felt that the Hythe needed reinvigorating. There are a number of hurdles to overcome including polluted plots, a largely transient population and a patchwork of landownership. However, it’s also an area of huge potential crying out for a voice to bring together residents, businesses and existing community groups. We’re here now, but we’re just at the beginning of a long journey and it’s crucial that we stick at it.”

 

Hythe Forward’s thirteen strong volunteer board will soon be looking to launch a community share prospectus which will allow local people to buy membership for just £1. The greater the take up the stronger the mandate to influence planning, inward investment and local authority spending decisions. Although the message is ‘slow and steady’, the infant CLT has already made some real progress in its first year:

Successfully campaigned to change the local ward boundary, bringing the whole of the Hythe into one ward and changing its name to Old Heath and The Hythe.

Affiliate member of the newly launched Hythe Business Network.

Negotiating with the proposed developer of the ‘Coldoc site’ to ensure the best possible outcome for local people.

Conducted a joint planning consultation with Colchester Borough Council, with the CLT gathering views to inform the drafting of a supplementary planning document. 

Agreed to work with Colchester Borough Council on local site allocations in relation to their borough wide local plan.

With solid foundations in place there’s an open invitation for Colcestrians to find out more or get involved. Enquiries can be made via Hythe Forward’s website and members of the public are welcome to attend quarterly board meetings. Their AGM is called for Tuesday 19th May, 6:30pm at Hythe Community Centre. More informal dialogue is welcome on their active Facebook and Twitter accounts.

www.hytheforward.org.uk

 

Alistair Heron

Alistair Heron

 

Come and Sing

Our Classical Music columnist Liz Leatherdale, founder and owner of Colchester Classics, writes about the joys of singing, along with forthcoming musical events in the Colchester area.

Did you know that singing is good for you? Singing produces ‘feel-good’ endorphins  – eating chocolate does too, but singing is less fattening!

Singing is a great stress reliever and it is very hard to worry and sing simultaneously.

Singing is a great way to work out requiring deep breathing, co-ordination of muscles (facial, diaphragm, chest etc) in response to the sound the ears hear and the mind interprets.

Of all the types of singing it is choral singing that has the greatest effect on us. In addition to the above, as it is a very social event too. Choirs are a great place to meet people and many choral societies have married couples who met over sheet music!

Come Sing the Messiah

Why not pop along to a ‘Come and Sing’ event? They often offer the opportunity to rehearse a large-scale choral work in the afternoon and present a concert in the evening. This month, Saturday 23rd May, the Friends of West Mersea Parish Church and conductor Chris Green are hosting ‘Come Sing the Messiah’. If you would like to join in the choruses, including the rousing ‘Hallelujah!’, one of the most famous pieces of Baroque choral music, please obtain an application form as soon as possible. Phone 07927 606579 or email admin@fwmpc.org.uk. You can find out more at www.fwmpc.org.uk

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 Come and Sing HMS Pinafore

Witham Choral Society is venturing into the topsy-turvy world of Gilbert & Sullivan by hosting a Come and Sing performance of the much-loved HMS Pinafore on Saturday 30th May. Rehearsal for singers begins at 2.30pm (tickets: £10) with the evening concert at 7pm (tickets: £5) at the Witham Public Hall. Telephone 01621 854621.

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Lexden Choral Society

Gilbert & Sullivan’s Trial by Jury and Faure’s Requiem will be coupled together by the Lexden Choral Society on Saturday 13 June, 7.30pm at St Leonard’s Church, Lexden, Colchester (tickets £10) phone 01206 543280.

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Roman River Music Festival

The Roman River Music Festival begins in September 2015 when many musicians will descend on Colchester and the surrounding area to perform. Details of the 2015 event are being carefully guarded until the festival is launched at the Mercury Theatre on Tuesday 19th May with a concert by the internationally acclaimed Brodsky String Quartet. While the quartet is just as at home playing classical music and also collaborating with rock figures such as Bjork and Elvis Costello next Tuesday they will perform music by Beethoven, Zemlinsky and Schubert. Mercury Theatre, Colchester at 8pm. Tickets from £10. Box Office 01206 573948. In 2012 the Brodskys secured an exclusive contract with the CD label Chandos.

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Frinton Festival

This year’s Frinton Festival, presented by Frinton Music (Robert Max, artistic director) and the Barbican Piano Trio, opens on May 23 with a concert featuring local choirs from the Tendring area in a performance of Horovitz’s Captain Noah and his Floating Zoo. Find out about all of the concerts which take place until 26 May at www.frintonfestival.com

If you would like to enjoy the performers and classical pieces mentioned in Liz’s column they can be found at www.colchesterclassics.co.uk

Liz Leatherdale

Liz Leatherdale

COMING SOON: A FEW HOT PICKS FOR THE REST OF MAY 2015

Every month I’ll try to preview some of the upcoming interesting looking movies that will attempt to get your bums on seats in a dark, air-conditioned auditorium and dazzle your eyeballs and eardrums with cinematic spectacle. I can’t promise they’ll all be great, in fact some of them might be downright bad, I’m just putting them out there for your consideration.

With Avengers: Age of Ultron and Fast and Furious 7 riding high in the box office it’s pretty apparent that Summer 2015 blockbuster season is already upon us. So, this isn’t the season for cerebral, thought-provoking, beautiful and quiet; this is loud-shouty, face-punchy, car-smashy, building-explodey time.

Bring it on.

FRIDAY 15th

MAD MAX: FURY ROAD (BBFC Rating: 15)

Tom Hardy takes over the role of former police officer turned post-apocalyptic wanderer, Max, from Mel Gibson in, what might best be described as, a two-hour, breathless, operatic chase scene. If you’re a fan of all-out action movie making, Fury Road looks like it could well be your film of the year.

 

PITCH PERFECT 2 (BBFC Rating: 12)

Despite the fact that there wasn’t a single original idea or joke in Pitch Perfect, it was hugely enjoyable and consistently funny. That was down, mostly, to the likeable cast (most notably Anna Kendrick and Rebel Wilson) and engaging musical arrangements of some pretty cheesy pop songs. I don’t expect PP2 will tinker with the original’s winning formula and it probably shouldn’t, this could either be fun or it could be that difficult second album.

FRIDAY 22ND

POLTERGEIST (BBFC Rating: 15)

I was about to moan about remakes coming around far too soon but just did the math and (this’ll make you feel old) the original Poltergeist was released 33 years ago. This time Sam Rockwell plays the father of the family beset by, ahem, insidious nasties from ‘The Other Side’, whilst the directors reins have been handed to Gil Kenan, best known as the maker of animated movie, Ghost House. Expect haunted flat screen tellys, cute children in peril and, worst of all, scary clown dolls.

 

TOMORROWLAND – A WORLD BEYOND (BBFC Rating: 12A)

Shrouded in mystery, all we know of director Brad Bird’s Tomorrowland is what we can glean from the trailers and that’s not a lot. I’ll let you judge the trailer for yourself, this could be really good, it looks really good but it could also be really bad (it’s co-written by Damon Lindelof, writer of annoying tv phenomenon Lost and disappointing Alien prequel, Prometheus)

 

FRIDAY 29TH

SAN ANDREAS (BBFC Rating: 12A)

They still can’t make disaster movies as cheesily entertaining as those star-studded, Irwin Allen epics of the seventies, but if you like your destruction on a Roland Emmerich scale (just watch the trailer), San Andreas is the film for you. It’s Dwayne Johnson versus a California destroying earthquake or, if you prefer: It’s The Rock versus rolling. Let’s get ready to RUUUMMMMBLE!

 

Check out what’s on and when and even book your seats online (now, finally, with no booking fee) for Colchester Odeon HERE.

Andy Oliver

Andy Oliver

The Kubricks Rock The Soundhouse

A Saturday night out in Colchester for me these days usually involves ending up in The Bull to check out the bands in the pub’s dedicated on-site music venue, the Soundhouse. Last night’s trip into town was to be no exception, so after a couple of pints of Blue Moon in Hudson Bar on Head Street mingling with the town’s trendy set (being over 40 we were of course invisible to them) we were Crouch Street bound as word had reached us that The Kubricks were in town.

On arrival at The Bull Dave Richards, the owner, greeted us at the door, and after a brief stop at the main bar to grab a couple of drinks we made our way through to the Soundhouse in time for our main event. After an enthusiastic introduction from Ben Howard, Colchester’s very own Mr Cool, The Kubricks, a nine-piece band from London, hit the stage and nearly blew the roof off the packed venue; in the process instantly propelling themselves onto my Fantasy Gig Line-Up. Fantasy Gig Line-Up, I hear you ask, what’s that? Well simply put, it’s a list of the bands and artists I would want to have playing if I was organising my own party, say for a significant birthday, wedding, or perhaps a mini festival in the garden. It goes without saying that these acts that would all have to be within my limited budget, so the likes of Simple Minds and Blondie are on my separate Post Lottery Win Fantasy Gig Line-Up. My restricted budget line-up so far includes Colchester’s Ady Johnson, Animal Noise, Modern English and F.O.X to name but a few. And of course The Kubricks, who have now given me a headache with the running order. But I digress.

If your musical tastes include any of the following –  Ska, Jazz, Rock, Northern Soul, Rock and Pop you will love The Kubricks. If they don’t, I think I’d still be safe placing a bet that you will love them. Fronted by the energetic and charismatic Peter Shreeves, The Kubricks belted out a high energy set that kept the house rocking for forty-five minutes, delivering infectious song after song that showed why they were so in demand during last year’s festival season, playing at no less than seven festivals, three of which they headlined, as well as playing main support slots for UB40, The Toasters and Buster Shuffle. Their influences clearly come from the best of British Ska, in fact their website proudly features this quote from Horace Panter, the bassist in The Specials:

“I can hear Madness, The Ruts, Squeeze and The Clash in there… all mashed up to make something very listenable. There are tunes you can sing in the bath or at the traffic lights. Intelligent lyrics and danceable too!! ”

It’s not often I go to a gig, see a band for the first time, and feel like their songs are already a part of me. With great songwriting, and a memorable performance that over-delivered on everything that the audience could have wanted, that is exactly what The Kubricks achieved for me.

The Kubricks are a band not to be missed, so make sure you catch them next time they are in town.

www.thekubricks.com

www.facebook.com/thekubricks

Simon Crow

Me

The Cinema and iPhone Etiquette*

With talk of Curzon Cinemas setting up shop in the former Keddies building in the town’s Queen Street, and Head Street’s Odeon bracing itself for this year’s summer blockbusters, Colchester 101’s resident movie reviewer Andy Oliver wants to address iPhone etiquette in the cinema.

How exciting is your life?

Are you and your Facebook friends regularly saving the world from megalomaniac, self-replicating robots with daddy issues? Have you dropped out of the back of a plane in your unfeasibly cool muscle-car lately and your Snapchat chums need to know about it? Are tweets about Sergeant Troy’s romantic and, worryingly, swashbuckling pursuit of you the trending hashtag that millions hang on?

Yes?

Really?

Then what are you doing sitting in a cinema? Surely nothing, nothing, that a huge team of professional film makers, money men and actors put up there, on the silver screen, is going to be of any interest to you; nothing they sweat over, pore over, brow beat and (metaphorically) flagellate themselves over is going to excite any response from you; you are the gods who walk among us and nothing is more interesting than you.

But, for the rest of us, the ones who work in our dreary jobs, with our dreary lives and our drearily low number of Twitter followers and our dreary Facebook statuses, that stuff projected up there, that colourful, noisy, emotional, funny, touching stuff; that magical stuff for which we have had to spend our hard earned money to see and enjoy; that, “Stuff that dreams are made of”; that is about as exciting as our lives get.

And that’s why it’s so annoying when you start checking or, worse, answering your bloody mobile phone. That sudden shaft of light in the dark; that unexpected gorilla-glass glow; that unwelcome explanatory exchange (“Yeah, I’m at the pictures, mate….Yeah, it’s alright, not as exciting as my life… Yeah, that’s why I didn’t turn my phone off… lol”), these are the things that pluck us out of our cinematic reverie, that distract and annoy, irritate and, possibly, destroy our enjoyment of the moving images we paid our hard-earned cash to watch.

iPhone

Here’s the thing: “You are not special. You are not a beautiful and unique snowflake”. You are not an avenging superhero; you are neither fast nor furious; and, if you don’t turn that phone off, you are not far enough away from the madding crowd. Whilst you are there in the dark with us, you are one of us!

The cinema is NOT your home, it is a public place, more importantly, a public place where not only you but everyone who is there with you has paid actual money to be. Everyone has paid money because it is a place in which they want to be, watching a film they want to see. Like it or not, once those lights go down and the movie starts to play, you are part of a communal experience and no longer an individual; for the duration of the movie, whether or not you are enjoying it or how good it actually is, you are a small part of a whole, try not to be the bacterial interloper that upsets any part of it. Even the original hipster, Holden Caulfield, admitted, “If I ever sat behind myself in a movie or something, I’d probably lean over and tell myself to please shut up.”

Fans of Radio 5 Live’s flagship film show have long been aware of the Code of Conduct launched by hosts Simon Mayo and Mark Kermode, of which mobile phone usage is but one of ten heinous crimes against fellow patrons (a copy of “The Code” can be found here HERE. In the United States some of the smaller chains have taken a zero tolerance view on phone use, throwing offending patrons out, usually to cheers and applause from the other cinema goers.

Maybe there’ll be a time when it’ll be socially acceptable to check your social networks statuses in a cinema, though I hope not; maybe cinemas will reserve the rear few rows of seats for serial tweeters (a kind of throwback to the days when the left hand side of the theatre was reserved for smokers); maybe technology will allow “Likes” to be transmitted to the pleasure centres of your brain; maybe, maybe… But that day ain’t yet, sunshine, so keep that phone in your pocket or bag or, even better, turn it off until you leave the auditorium.

Thank you for your consideration.

*Other annoying distraction makers are available

 

Andy Oliver
Andy Oliver

My Music Masters Of The Month – May 2015

Meet Jeanette Lynes, a Colchester musician who sings with Sound Mirrors and The Significant Others. Jeanette is also the promoter who has been running Acoustic Bull on the 2nd Thursday of each month for four years, and Bullstock Music Festival for three years, at The Bull in Colchester.

Each month I am going to write about acoustic, covers and original acts that have impressed me and I’m going to begin with my highlights from Cosmic Puffin 8.

Well, what a great musical start to this month! Local legend, Jamie Anderson, started organising Cosmic Puffin music festivals on Mersea Island 8 years ago and each year they go from strength to strength. Raising thousands of pounds for charity, the festival is a big draw for musicians and festival-goers, with six stages accommodating more than 100 acts and providing something for just about everyone… no matter how weird! I had the great pleasure of performing there a few years ago with Lady Bird & The Larks and then again this year with Sound Mirrors on The River Stage. The whole festival appeared to be run like a well-oiled machine, but with just the right amount of laid-back hippy-appeal that you would expect and want from a small(ish) music event run entirely by volunteers.

Acoustic

‘Fishclaw’ are a six-piece instrumental group who play a mix of up-tempo beats and melodies with traditional folk influences and immersive ‘soundscapes’. With double bass, violin, whistle/flute & accordion amongst their armoury they had the place enthralled – it’s impossible to not dance… or at least tap your foot!

Give them a listen:

Covers

I don’t get to see many cover bands but this one could also be in the Acoustic section of my article… ‘The Bijoux Toots’, also affectionately known as ‘The Toots’. They say they are ‘Americana Popfolk Nugrass’ and if you like shanties, reels and unexpected pop songs played by some great folk musicians then this will be right up your street. Using condenser microphones, the ones that pick up all surrounding sound, they stood in two groups leaning in and out blending their voices and instruments to great effect.

A video taste of The River Stage:

Originals

‘Mouthful Of Ashtrays’ played on The Cosmic Stage and my word they filled it with some jaw-droppingly good old-fashioned rock with a hint of country! They had everything going on… the music, the vibe, the harmonies and, of course, the stance. Centre stage in dark glasses, one foot on the monitor and wielding his bass guitar like a machine gun, Mark Shillaker played up brilliantly to the exuberant crowd.

See them in action on The Cosmic Stage:


Jeanette

Jeanette Lynes

We’re back

Did you miss us?

Colchester 101 was originally launched in print form in November 2010 and was an instant hit with Colchestrians who quickly found they couldn’t get enough of the magazine’s diverse mix of locally focused content, written and contributed by local people. 10,000 copies a month were snapped up from pubs, bars, restaurants, gyms, supermarkets, the cinema, and countless local shops as fast as we could distribute them by readers eager for their monthly fix of news about local bands, the arts scene, Colchester United and much, much more, all jostling for space amongst interviews with the likes of John Cooper Clarke, Adamski and Modern English as well as local favourites including Animal Noise, Ady Johnson and New Town Kings.

Unfortunately, the time spent every month preparing the artwork, checking printer’s proofs and carrying out press passes, let alone distributing all those copies, proved too much of a distraction from our day jobs, so eventually we made the reluctant decision to end production.

Fast forward to 2015 and we’re back, this time online, and fired up with renewed enthusiasm.  We believe that there is still an appetite for local content, in fact maybe more so than before, so we’re bringing back some of your old favourites, along with a few new contributors too. And, without strict deadlines to hit, we won’t need to pull all-nighters this time round to get the artwork finished and off to the printers.  As an online publication we can upload content as and when it comes in, as well as including video and audio, meaning that Colchester 101 can take on a life that wasn’t possible in a 32 page A4 format.

I hope you enjoy the all new Colchester 101.

Simon

 

Minories Reduced

Modern English

Castle Park

Waiting Room