Wednesday, July 1, 2009

couple of recent issues/events.. Jackson, Glastonbury, new play..

Ok, I haven't had much to write about lately, so here's a few thoughts on some recent things cultural..

1. Michael Jackson. It's supposed to be inappropriate to speak ill of the dead, but what the hell, he must be dead a week by now, so here goes.. I just can't understand the international outpouring of extreme grief. I'm sorry for his fans and family of course, but what are we really grieving for? An insanse, bewildered and no doubt, miserable, former artist. I say former, because when his last piece of work? And after you've answered that question, when was his last decent piece of work?
And is his body of work not very small anyway? 3 or 4 decent albums, and a bunch of fine pop singles with the Jacksons. Admittedly, he was very talented, an original singer, a very good dancer (although in 200 years, I reckon Fred Astaire will be the 20th century dancer people still talk about), and he made a strong contribution to the cross over appeal of black artists.
BUT what on earth are all these lunatics talking about who say he was the FIRST to do this?
I mean, are you telling me the following amazing and groundbreaking black artists had NO white fans? Louis Armstrong, Muddy Waters, Sam Cooke, Otis Redding, Aretha Franklin, Ella Fitzgerald, Duke Ellington, Miles Davis?!!
Finally, a lot of his work had a lot of strong involvement from 3rd parties, be they songwriters or producers such as Quincy Jones.
I am not putting him down completely, he was very talented and he meant a lot to people, but can we have some perspective?
.. and I didn't even get in to his crazy, irresponsible and out of control private life..

2. Glastonbury. Jeez, I should have gone to this one. A line up to dream about - Bruce, Neil, Madness, Quo, Blur, Specials.. All of whom seemed great in the, as ever, top drawer BBC coverage. I'm a little sorry I skipped Neil's Dublin show, although the one to see it turns out now, was his London show, with that very special duet on Day in the Life with McCartney.
These big shows / festivals are very enjoyable these days, as they seem better organised than in the past (notable exception : Slane), so I may go to Glastonbury again someday (was there in 1998), and Electric Picnic, which despite it being a little too dance-orientated for my tastes, I enjoyed last year, plus someday I'd LOVE to go to Bonarroo. Of course, there are many very good smaller and cheaper festivals running in cities all over the world - one example being the Dun Laoghaire Festival of World Cultures in Dun Laoghaire Dublin, which launches it's 2009 (29-31 Aug) programme tommorow, here

3. The Last Days of a Reluctant Tyrant.
A new play by Tom Murphy in the Abbey Theatre. Based on an old Russian novel (and don't let that put you off), I found this a fascinating play, all about family, property, power, being poor, being rich, being poor again.. I suggest you go see it not knowing too much about it, but suffice to say the acting is very good, ESPECIALLY in a jaw dropping performance from Marie Mullen. Get a seat in the front section, and watch a powerhouse performance from this little old (apols - middle aged!) woman. My God, she must be exhausted after this every night..
Highly recommended.

Next up;
2 x Bruce
2 x Leonard
2 x Wilco.
.. plus the Noel Coward play in the Gate.

Now, all we need is a decent film to come out sometime..

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