Jack Whitehall: At Large

Another night, another stand up comedy! Shows are like buses, you wait for ages to see a stand up comedian and then two come at once in the same week. This isn’t what each week of mine is like. I wished.

Me and my partner in crime, F, were off to another night of laughs at our favourite venue the O2 arena in Greenwich. I love this venue for so many reasons. Most importantly it is so simple to get to from home and isn’t too long a journey. But also the whole venue is just amazing. I love the hustle and bustle and the buzzing atmosphere from everyone there. It has everything you want in one venue. Restaurants, bars and even a little newsagent as well as the 20,000 seated arena. I have only ever seen bands perform at the O2 so it was exciting to be able to see something a little bit different, especially in such a huge venue. How would a stand up work to such a large capacity? Would the atmosphere still be there? Would you still feel a part of the act like you would with a musician in that sized venue?

I needn’t have worried. A stand up worked just as well!

Friday night, the start of the coming weekend and the night Jack Whitehall was performing at The O2 in North Greenwich.  Our seats weren’t too shabby and we had a good view of the stage and the screens.

The support act started just after 8 and it was none other than Joe Lycett. It is funny because only recently have I become aware of him as a comedian and seen him perform on 8 out of 10 cats does countdown and Live at the Apollo. I also follow him on twitter and as a follower you are always guaranteed a good laugh and joke on your timeline from him. His main act always consists of some emails he has sent to someone he knows regarding an issue he has and this night it was no different. Unfortunately it was the same joke that he had used on Live at the Apollo, but it was still just as funny hearing him say it again as it was the first time. Let’s just say emails went backwards and forwards about a made up fox called Sally Peterson and her wanted poster being put in a snap frame at Lycett’s office. Overall Lycett gave a very good 15 minute performance and was a good warm up for the night ahead.

You heard Whitehall before you saw him, which isn’t a surprise! He opened his set with a video consisting of all things every Jack Whitehall fan would expect of him: Freddie Flintoff (League of their own), his father (Backchat with Jack Whitehall and his Father) and the cast from Bad Education. He also had fellow comedian David Walliams. The end of the video saw him jump on a horse and riding off into the sunset. Next thing there’s Jack on stage on a great big grey horse! It’s not everyday a comedian makes that kind of entrance.

He jumped off and the horse was led off stage. Whitehall began his set but within a minute he stopped and our attention was brought to the massive pile of poo left on stage by the horse. Jack played it so well. If I hadn’t read before I would have easily believed that that wasn’t meant to happen and wasn’t a part of the act. Everyone was creasing up at his reaction, and even more so when he had to get on his hands and knees and shovel it in a bag.
The first half was side splitting funny. It just seemed that nothing was going to plan for Jack. Whether this was part of the act or not, it did the job. I don’t think there was a straight face in the house. His reference to Waitrose, Asda, name dropping and his experience with the Royal Family all seemed to never go his way and before the end of this section he ended up crawling in left over horse muck. He knew how to keep the audience going and he did it so well.

The second half, I thought couldn’t get any more bizarre than the first. I was wrong. Oh so wrong. If you thought Jack’s entrance was brilliant, it was nothing compared to the end where he was dressed in an inflatable troll costume trying to knock Elsa from Frozen out of the way as she sung on stage. This was all in reference to his role, which soon became a non speaking role in the movie Frozen. As he pointed out, he is the penultimate name on the cast list and had his voice over removed as Elsa began to sing Let it go. The cries of laughter from the crowd filled the arena.
The second half seemed a lot more quick paced than the first and more staged but it didn’t disappoint.

You found yourself at times wondering if it was okay to laugh at what he was saying. But that’s Whitehall humour and we as an audience were all in the same boat. No one was there to judge at what you laughed at, instead you came together as an audience and silently chuckled at the parts that you thought weren’t always appropriate to laugh out loud to.

Jack Whitehall lived up to everything and more and I am as much a fan as I was before I saw him live. He interacted well with us as an audience, got us involved and made local references. His humour is at times inappropriate but that’s what makes him unique. He is a man child who says all the wrong things at the wrong time but you can’t help but laugh at him. It’s a strong 9 out of 10 for me, maybe even encroaching on a 10.

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Sue Perkins: Spectacles 👓

So something a little bit different for me and F this week. (I promise we don’t normally go out this much, it just always seems to be the way that things all happen to fall around the same time! I promise me and F do just sit at home and watch movies most nights when we’re together.)

We went to a comedy! Not just any comedy stand up, but the spectacular (hahaha see what I did there, Spectacular, a cheeky twist on the title and the name of the stand up. No? Just me?) Sue Perkins and her Spectacles tour. The venue was more local and didn’t involve hopping from train to tube to get into the big city. This simply was a car journey of not too long a period.

I have been to this venue only once before to see Jamie T. For that we were on the penultimate row on the balcony so not even remotely close to the stage. However, this time I got tickets to sit in the stalls. Five rows back to be precise 😉. The stage was within touching distance. I would be able to see the facial features of Sue on stage instead of just a blur! How exciting!

I have previously gone to amateur stand up nights in London at the Top Secret Comedy Club  and thoroughly enjoyed my nights there, so I was looking forward to seeing a name I actually had heard of and already knew I would be in for a night of laughs.

For those of you who don’t know Sue Perkins, I suppose she became most famous or well known to me on this programme called The Great British Bake Off. She was part of a duo of her and Mel and they were belly-aching funny together and as much as I loved the baking, the programme wouldn’t have worked without them two. Sue has also branched off on her own and done a variety of appearances on quiz shows including QI and Have I got news for you. Sue has also presented her own shows including a documentary on her travelling up The Mekong River and most recently hosting Insert Name Here. 

The one thing I really like about Sue Perkins above other comedians is that she doesn’t swear, nor does she belittle others to such an extent to make herself funny like other comedians. She doesn’t use her sexuality or gender to get laughs. She is just a generally, an honest originally funny person and I really admire that.

Like most things Me and F go to we always try and have a meal out together first and then we go to the venue, get a drink at the bar, get our seats and have a bit of time before the actual shows start. But not last night however. The opposite happened.
Normally on tickets the time they state is when the doors open and that is generally half an hour before the show starts so it gives people time to get there, get drinks and settle into their seats. So me and F casually turned up at about twenty to eight (tickets started half seven) and the lobby was empty. There was no one about. There were a couple of ushers who came up to us. We showed them our tickets and this young gentlemen said he would lead us to our seats. Me and F were both a little taken back as we didn’t have the chance to get a drink and had no idea where everyone was. The second we entered the entrance to the hall it dawned on us. We heard the faint rumble of laughter and to our horror Sue Perkins had started!
The embarrassment. All I can say is I safely covered my face as the usher led us from the side door and in front of a row a seats then through an aisle past at least ten more rows before we finally reached our seats. At this moment in time I wasn’t that pleased that we had seats in the 5th row from the front and slap bang in the middle. It just drew even more attention to us. Thank goodness it was Sue Perkins. I can only imagine that any other comedian like Jimmy Carr or Lee Evans would have definitely picked on us!

After hastily taking our coats off, squeezing past the five or six people in our row to get to our seats we were finally sat down and ready for a night of Sue.

The first of half (of which we missed a good 5 or 10 minutes!) was based around her book Spectacles – a memoir. As well as a projector showing photos of her family including, her mum and dad’s wedding, her as a baby and various photos of her throughout her childhood. She also read extracts from her book. I loved this. I confess I haven’t got round to reading her book yet but when I do it will be great to imagine how certain parts are meant to be read after hearing her reading it. Sue did a lot of off the cuff talking and engaged with the audience very well. All around people were screeching with laughter and clapping at Sue.

The interval came and went. A quick chance to pop to the loo, buy a drink and some sweets and then run back to our sweets in plenty of time of the second half starting. Now I wasn’t sure what to expect from the second half, maybe more extracts and photos. Instead Sue opened it up to the floor and it was Q&A time. Now this isn’t to everyone’s cup of tea but I loved this. Sue handled it so well and it was great to see her go into so much detail over each question she was asked. Sue also did a great job at responding to such spontaneity.

The first question, I can’t say I was surprised, but the first question, or should I say proposition was if Sue would go for a drink with an audience member after the show. Sue was hilarious. She wasn’t rude, impertinent or disrespectful towards the audience member instead she turned it round into a good 10 minutes of stand up comedy which wound up about Tinder and involving another audience member.
The questions kept coming and Sue didn’t falter once. The detail, the animation, the passion she had with each question was heartfelt and honest. As an audience member I learnt about a programme she was in many years ago called Supersizers and even got told about a new documentary that she was embarking on. It felt really personal and open of Sue and there was a strong connection between us the audience and her,Sue Perkins.

Not only did we learn a lot about Sue’s family and what has effectively made her, her, Sue also learnt about us the audience. By the end it transpired that as an area we weren’t fond of Brighton (seafront rivals!), we applaud self reflection as if we were at a village cricket game and a player went out after scoring just a four despite playing her best, and we absolutely love vegetarianism (although the majority weren’t actually vegetarian!)!

The second half went by in a flash and before Sue knew it, her manager was on the side telling her time was up but not before Sue showed off her guitar and singing skills. Sue admitted she could only play three chords and had only learnt it for us and that we were to sing along with her because she is quite phobic about singing in public. We as an audience readily accepted the request and with Sue strumming the strings and the words on the projector we were off! The song? Well it was Bad Moon Rising by Creedence Clearwater Revival. F admitted afterwards that he had only heard the name of the band through the Lily Allen song Him! The song  wasn’t exactly the most joyous as these lyrics show:

I hope you got your things together
I hope you are quit prepared to die
Look’s like we’re in for nasty weather
One eye is taken for an eye

Once we reached this part Sue stopped playing and sang her own version in which we had to turn to our left and say I love you (bit awkward as it was a complete and utter stranger to my left but at least F said it to me) and then to say I love you to the right (Thank got it was F!). Sue even managed to make a joke about the whole Brexit situation and despite how each person voted, whether remain or stay we still love one another. What an end. We were all grinning like cheshire cats from ear to ear, humming the beat of Bad Moon Rising as Sue humbly bowed twice in front of us before the lights came back on. 

It truly was a Spectacle, Sue, thank you! 

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Pulp Fiction

Friday night and a new adventure for me and F. As a couple we aren’t the type who always have to be out doing things and spending money, we’re more than content to be sat at home watching a film or whatever sport is on the telly. However, we do like an outing here and there.

A month or so ago I spotted an event on Facebook that I thought would be of interest to F. It was the chance to see Pulp Fiction at The Grand in Clapham. I’m not a film buff. I don’t have the attention span to be able to sit there and watch a film unless I’m in the cinema or I’m sat with someone who is forcing me to watch it. On my own I get up halfway through a film and get distracted by menial tasks such as cleaning my room or organising my books just because I can’t sit still. F is the opposite. He loves a good film and Pulp Fiction is up there as one of his favourites. Being such a great girlfriend (😉 haha) I suggested it to F and booked it up.

The night finally arrived after booking it a month in advance. It was being held at a venue called the Grand. It was established in 1900 and is a grade II listed Victorian building which used to be a music hall back in the day. A venue right up my street. I love a listed building and a bit of history in a place.
For a cinema night, the Grand converts its hall into a 500 seat cinema. And what an incredible place it was! From the outside it looked grand, I can see where it got the name from.

After a quick bag search we walked through to the entrance hall and had our tickets scanned. We were then offered a free shot, not sure what it was but it some sour of some sort. Me and F went upstairs to the balcony ti go and find some seats. It was quite an amazing venue and idea. There were rows of cushions instead of individual seats like a normal cinema. A few rows further down you had tables and stools. I never looked over the balcony so don’t know what the downstairs looked like but I imagined it was similar.

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The seats

After playing musical chairs a good few times, me and F finally settled on the back row. The only, not complaint, but I suppose issue I had was that with those sat on stools a few rows down you often had their heads in the view of the screen and the metal bars didn’t really help matters. But me and F found a superb seat and were rarely hassled with a bobbing head in front of us.

The ciders were bought (completely forgot I wasn’t meant to be drinking because of my sleeping tablets, so safe to say I didn’t have my tablet that night!) and at ten minutes to eight the host came on the stage. He quoted a few lines from the line, and me being a complete noob with Pulp Fiction had no idea what he was on about, but people were cheering and clapping so must have been rather relevant!

I lied about only having one complaint, I do apologise, I don’t normally lie but I forgot that I had another issue with the venue. As great as the atmosphere was I was a bit disappointed that most people seemed to continue talking excessively loud from the minute the film started. I know everyone is there for a good time but I was kind of hoping to be able to hear the film. It would have helped if they put subtitles up because as I later found out, the great thing about Pulp Fiction is the dialogue far more than the picture. There’s a lot of classic one liners in it and unfortunately I missed out on a lot of them. I suppose going to watch it in a place like this wasn’t the best option to watch it for the first time. I, however was lucky enough to have my Pulp Fiction translator, F. He kept me updated on what was being said, what was happening and any other vital parts I might have missed.

An hour and a half later, the film was paused and the interval began. I wasn’t expecting any entertainment for the interval but to my surprise they did their very own Jack Rabbit Slims Twist Competition (similar to that in Pulp Fiction for those who have no idea what I am on about). Me and F had a bit of a twist and boogie which was great fun!  The host chose three couples to go up on stage and dance it out . We, the audience, had to cheer for the couple we thought did the best twist. They were incredible, but one couple really stood out and deservedly won free alcohol! This was great fun and really made the night. The interval went by in a flash and the second half was ready.

The film didn’t end up finishing until ten to eleven but I was so glad we stayed to the end to watch it all. It was such a great film and something so different to what I normally watch. The cast were fantastic and the story line was bizarre but it worked. There were parts where I had my hand over my mouth in fear, in shock and in laughter! It wasn’t until quite a way through the film that I realised that the film jumped backwards and forwards in time. As soon as I realised this the whole film made sense. I really liked how Tarantino did this. I also now know where Direct Line got their idea from for their advert. I never knew Harvey Keitel’s character Winston Wolfe was from Pulp Fiction. But I do now, and I get it a whole lot more.

I feel a bit behind the times. I feel like I have no knowledge when it comes to movies, but I am getting there. I am slowly introducing myself to more films and hopefully I won’t be such a noob about them soon.

I thoroughly enjoyed my night and I think F did too. Apart from the two little niggles that I had about it, I would definitely recommend it and I would go back. Especially when I paid £3 for these tickets. In all honesty I would have paid more because it is such a unique experience and there was entertainment half way through, a free shot when you walked in and the staff were friendly. Just maybe include subtitles next time so those that do want to watch can follow what is going on. However, I would give it an 8/10 for simply how unique it was and how well put together it was. So if you ever get the chance to see a film there I would recommend at least going once.

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Kaleo – Handprint

This is the gig I’ve been waiting for,  the band I couldn’t wait to see live. I had already had to cancel seeing them last year due to prior arrangements and now nothing was going to get in my way of seeing the Icelandic quartet who boast a beautiful sound of folk, blue and rock.

The band was started by JJ Julius Son, David Antonsson and Daniel Kristjansson who were best friends at school. They soon added Rubin Pollock  and in 2012 Kaleo was formed. (After a bit of research Kaleo is hawaiian for the sound.)

Tuesday 31st January, Kaleo were continuing their Handprint tour across the UK and it was the turn of London O2 Forum in Kentish Town to be graced with their sound.

Once again my boyfriend was the lucky individual who I dragged along with me. He was fed and watered beforehand so don’t feel too sorry for him (and he very kindly paid for dinner too, what a sweetie 😘)!

The weather was miserable and the rain was continuous but armed with my umbrella and my man I was excited to get to the venue.

O2 Forum kentish Town is a perfect intimate venue. It isn’t too small nor too big yet anywhere you stand on the bottom floor you will have a good view as there’s different levels and also a bit of an upward slope.

We got priority entrance, allowing us to skip the queue and go straight in. But being British and loving queueing we were still lucky enough to queue for the cloakroom, where it was £3 an item!! Whilst in the queue the support band started. Straightaway you could hear why they were supporting Kaleo. Their sound was similar with a mix of indie rock and soulful blues. The four piece named Broken Witt Rebels created an atmosphere. Despite not hearing them before you couldn’t help but bop along to them. The charisma and charm of the lead singer was contagious and it was clear everyone was enjoying them.

Their set was 40 minutes long and their energy and passion was rife throughout. They were entertaining to watch and really warmed up the crowd. Their musical techniques were  incredible and their playing in different tuning on their guitars and bass was nothing I’d noted before.  I’ve already scouted them out on Spotify to listen to.

9pm and Kaleo appear after their roadie insisted on checking the mic a multitude of times. JJ Julius Son came on dressed in a smart blazer, a white sleeveless top and black trousers. He looked smart and quite the part of the lead singer. He started whistling as the rest of the band in strikingly floral patterned shirts, struck their instruments. The first song had started;  can’t go on without you. The crowd were singing and dancing straight away. I thought this was a sign of good things to come for the rest of their set.

Now for those of you who know Kaleo or for those of you that don’t, it is key to know that a lot of their songs are slow. I expected this and knew there wouldn’t be a lot of jumping around but I was hoping that JJ would interact with us and keep the atmosphere going.

Unfortunately he didn’t. I got the impression, and so did my boyfriend, that  in a good way he was very passionate about his music and concentrated on that but at the same time it also came across that he didn’t have much stage presence.

They worked their way through the songs, including the crowd favourites of automobile, a cover of bang, bang, way down we go and all the pretty girls. 

They sounded so much better live than on their recording and that was hard to beat. His vocals, the passion and love they all have for the music was evident. However, as previously mentioned their interaction was minimal.

It didn’t help that the crowd was a mix of people and ages. I got the gist that majority of people were there because the tickets were cheap and it was ideal for a week evening out and not because they were fans of Kaleo. They were drunk and rowdy and made me and others feel very uncomfortable and unable to enjoy the gig.

Me and the boyfriend persevered through the just over the hour set. It was nice as I got to have a dance with him but this to me became the only highlight of the gig.

Kaleo did get an encore and they did perform a rocky, upbeat song to close the gig. They were polite and thankful for us showing up and even suggested that they’ll be about next summer with a new tour or album.
I wanted so much to write such a good review and come back from that gig chomping at the bit to see them again live, but, unfortunately, I’m not. I’m not even sure I’m glad I saw them as I just really didn’t enjoy it. That may be because of the crowd or it might have been because of their lack of interaction but something just didn’t sit well with me. One thing I can confirm is that they are musicians. They can sing. They can play music. And they have a passion for it and that’s all you can ask of a band these days.

I hope I will see them again and I will have a completely different view but until then this gig won’t be going in my top 10 anytime soon.

 

JJ Julius Son playing Can’t go on without you

 

Kaleo

Rationale – ‘Pure Love’

Finally back into going to gigs, and what a way to start again!

On Wednesday 25th January, I met the Boyfriend from work and after enjoying a very delicious, and Gluten free Wahaca we left Waterloo and made our way to Charing Cross to seek out Heaven.

Heaven, a club owned by G-A-Y and first established in the 70s, boasts a 1000 person capacity for live music and has hosted acts ranging from Bombay Bicycle Club, Franz Ferdinand and N*E*R*D*.

I had Googled what Heaven looked like and where it was based but I wasn’t expecting what I saw when we arrived at the arches of Charing Cross. It was discrete and hidden despite the barriers and the metal detector right outside!

My boyfriend urged me to go first and so I strutted through the detector, had my bag checked and we were in! I had my stamp claiming I was allowed in and my ticket ripped. We turned the corner and faced a choice of two doors to go through, we went straight ahead and wow! What a venue. It was a typical basement, we were surrounded by exposed brick, dark paths and 3 or 4 little bars each with their own barman and a clock room to the left.

We hastily checked our coats in (only to soon realise that most kept theirs on, including hats and scarves, because it was freezing in there! The boyfriend waa convinced the gig area had no solid roof. He’s a structural engineer but I highly doubt he was right 😉) before rushing off to see the area where we’d be watching the music come alive. Safe to say we were awestruck. The roof was curved and the stage was raised. The room seemed to go back forever. Metal stairs left up to a balcony overlooking those standing below. I can only imagine what a great view those at the front got, those at the back not so much. This balcony led further back to a room I never got to see.

We got our ciders and we stood admiring the venue and excitedly anticipating what the night of music had in store for us. We were there for the headliner, Rationale, who spotify describe as a mash between Tracy Chapman and Morrisey.

The first act, the support, Dom Mcallister was up at half eight. The range of voice he has was incredible. He performed his own music and did a mash up of Jamie xx I know there’s gonna be good times and LUV by Tory Lanez. What a mash up. Everyone was singing along from the first word courtesy of LUV.

He had a great rapport with us, his audience. He spoke to us and even got us to participate in one of his songs. All we had to do was sing ‘woahhh ohhh ohh oh oh’ after him.  Something so simple but so entertaining. We found out he had written that song with Jess Glynne. And you could tell. It had a heavy influence of her music but it suited his voice. His half an hour set was soon over and I think it’s safe to say he gained himself a fair few new supporters.

Another quick trip to the bar, this time for a diet coke and a G&T. We lost our spot on the floor so had to fight our way through the sea of people to find somewhere to stand. As I’m too much of a delicate, sweet person, I pushed the boyfriend in front and he found us a place to stand amongst the people.

The clock finally ticked round to half nine and it was time for Rationale to take his place on stage.

The stage bore his name in lights as his band appeared first. After much screaming and cheering, Rationale appeared. He was ready to dance, to sing and to entertain. The energy he conveys as he performs is contagious. You can’t help but smile and have and have a dance as his voice fills the room.

Unlike a lot of modern artists, Rationale’s songs have a lot of meaning and you can see first hand how much these songs mean to him. The emotion is rife. He sings with purpose and soul and that’s a rarity with artists this day.

His love for the audience was evident. He expressed that what he felt from us, was pure love. He couldn’t believe the cheers and the screams he was getting and watching us sing along to his songs despite him not yet releasing his debut album.

His hour set flew by. Me and the boyfriend danced the whole way through, more swayed but the thought was there! I sang as and when I could, terribly may I add. He completed his set with fuel to the fire. The crowd belted the words out with him as his gig came to an end.

After a couple of selfies, that was it. The gig was over. My boyfriend was most disappointed that he didn’t do an encore despite me telling him over and over, there wouldn’t be one. He finally accepted this fact and even later told me I was right, which is a rarity for him!

All in all, this gig reminded me just how much I prefer small intimate venues with artists who may not be as well known in the music world because the atmosphere and the feel is nothing of that that you get at bigger venues. There seemed close knit vibe and a whole lotta love as Rationale says.

If you ever see Rationale’s name pop up at a venue near you, I’d recommend a trip to see him.

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Rationale at Heaven