Tag Archives: musical

Review: Wicked – UK & Ireland tour

Ahh Wicked. I don’t go to the theatre much, but “Wicked” was the first thing I went to see at the West End (school trips discounted). I loved it then, I loved it year after when I went again, and I loved it tonight as it came to Milton Keynes.

wicked posterHaving seen a touring version of “Joseph” last year, I worried that it would be a bit scaled down and… well, a bit more provincial. Fortunately that wasn’t the case, and tonight was every bit as good as the West End performances I’ve seen.

I’m no theatre critic, so don’t expect anything insightful about the acting – aside from the fact that I thought they all did a great job. Some roles are just more engaging than others, and of course a musical lives and dies by the strength of its songs. Fortunately this wasn’t an issue, and goes a long way to explain why the show is as strong a box-office draw as ever, even in its tenth year. Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Reviews

Album: Madonna – “Evita – motion picture soundtrack” (1996)

Well here is the last hurdle to get over before MY era of Madonna arrives. It turned out to be not nearly as much of a drag as I thought. I’ve got the 2CD version which is basically the entire score. However it’s not quite as intimidating in its entirety as I first thought.

Some of it is an acquired taste as you’d expect, and I really had to just get over how some lines of dialogue didn’t fit the rhythm of the music at all. However there really are some great tracks in here – sure it’s not the usual Madonna and it’s a bit old-fashioned but I can hand-on-heart say that I can rate a few of these songs as highly as some of her big hits.

Enough of that though, I should start. I will cover the Madonna vocalled-ones mainly but have a bit of a word about the rest of it at the end.

07 Eva and Magaldi / Eva beware of the city: I always thought this had a bit of a clunky chorus, “I want to BEEE a part of B.A., Buenos Aires, Big Apple”. I like how it’s structured but it feels a bit lumpy somehow. I love the rather mental cleaning staff singing (“no-one’s told the papers … SO FAR”). Madonna sounds good, but I could really do without a Jimmy Nail duet to be perfectly honest. SCREW THE MIDDLE CLASSES … *rambling melody*

08 Buenos Aires:
So here we are at B.A., Buenos Aires, Big Apple, and samba madness ensues. I love this though, it’s fun, sounds like a whole song rather than the disjointed sections of the previous track. I LOVE that little 70’s cheesy listening middle-eight thing at the halfway mark, so gorgeous.

09 Another suitcase in another hall: A single finally, and probably the lesser-known of the three that got released in the UK. It’s still pretty lovely, the chorus is beautiful and sad .. “so what happens now? Where am I going to?” .. SIGH. I thought this was a rather odd moment in the movie, she doesn’t even get angry with Magaldi, just wanders off and gets sad. Either way, I love this, and the reprise with Andrea Corr being kicked to the kerb. Love that SAX solo too!

08 Goodnight and thankyou: It really helped to see this on the movie to put into context, it’s probably one of my favourite sequences. Evita puts on her sweet slut look and it fits, unsurprisingly, very well. It’s not a great song but it’s memorable and a little AMUSING. I like how it shares a tune with Eva Beware of the City though, so there’s that subtext in the background. But given her attitude, it seems like the city has to beware of HER. Love the little ZAZZ radio commercial halfway through too.

08 I’d be surprisingly good for you: After the Charity Concert segment, it’s a relief that such a significant point in the story has such a standout song. The intro is a bit jarring with the pair talking over each other, but once it gets into it this is a rather  sexy song (well, as sexy as going back to a hotel with Jonathan Pryce CAN be). I love the rhythm behind it, it’s a rather cold love song – I suppose that’s quite fitting as there isn’t really any love in there. That’s not the sort of theme I’m used to in a song, so it’s an intriguing piece.

06 Hello and Goodbye:
POOR ANDREA CORR, kick that bitch out. I haven’t quite decided if Evita’s being a complete bitch or if she really does mean that glimmer of sympathy.

06 Peron’s latest flame: A bit of a clunker, mainly a plot exposition song with a number of roles in there, the army, the upper class etc. Doesn’t quite work as a song though. SLUT! *electro guitar nonsense*

07 A New Argentina:
What a downer… so Colonel Peron is in prison but Evita shows some apparently genuine support for her lover. A reprise of the music from “I’d be surprisingly good for you”, laying out course for the rest of the film. I’m not sure where Eva got all this political savvy from still an important part of the film.

09 Don’t cry for me Argentina: Well no introduction isneeded here, though whilst being the iconic moment of the film it feels a little difficult to say this is the big song from the score. But it’s obviously the most famous and it is brilliant. Still, it’s a bit of a jarring moment in the GHV2 collection. The whole Casa Rosada sequence does show a rather terrifying vision of Madonna leading some big chanting political party. Luckily we only got as far as “American Life”.

05 High flying, adored: Taking stock of the situation now, but Evita’s still sounding reasonably humble. Bit of a dreary song though.

07 Rainbow High: A big hit, now what? Time for a TOUR of course, and a makeover! Sounds like she knows what she is doing, the tune is all over the place but I like the styling chorus. I like the lyrics in this one, and she manages to keep on top of the rampant melody whilst still getting across that sense of growing megalomania.

06 The Actress hasn’t learned the lines (You’d like to hear): Urgh, don’t like that operatic intro, and the Evita parts sound a bit depressing – as does the rest of the score after this (what with her dying and everything). But good on old EVA for slamdunking the bourgoisie (though they are the only ones who can afford her concerts)

06 Partido Feminista: Not much singing in this one, just some scary mental chanting with Evita trying to seize the VP role. Makes me feel a bit OOKY if I’m honest.

08 Waltz for Evita and Che: Time to face off against the pissy queen narrator, which I think Evita does wonderfully, is that CLEAR DEAR? Love the vocals too, even though they are totally all over the place. The cheery Mary Poppins feel to the vocals just makes it all the more cutting. Even better as the waltzy production just goes totally off the deep end towards the end.

07 Your little body’s slowly breaking down: Oh … how depressing. Peron isn’t exactly the most reassuring person to be at your bedside is he? I hate seeing her all ill. She really EMOTES this one, I love her in this role.

10 You must love me: You might think this a little highly rated but I honestly think of this as one of her best songs. Absolutely gorgeous and devastating in the context of the film. Before I saw it, I always imagined it was about a relationship breaking down with the singer desperately trying to keep it together, but in the movie Evita knows she’s going to die, everything has fallen apart and it’s the first time she really feels sorry for herself. God I love this song so much.

08 Eva’s final broadcast: A marked contrast with the original Casa Rosada section, with Evita basically signing off forever, it’s a really oppressively downcast moment which turns into a “Don’t cry..” reprise. God.. can you imagine if this sort of thing happened in real life? I don’t know who’d be an Evita equivalent, but that would be a total show-stopper, wouldn’t it?

09 Lament:
Last words now, and what a great song. I think this was an amazing part of the Reinvention tour, I think it’s such a well-written little segment, I can’t say why. POOR EVITA. Why did they need two minutes of silence on the CD though?! Just love this, I feel like it could easily be a dramatic swansong for Madonna herself. I only wish she sang it in a less croaky voice, clearly it makes sense in context but I love this, and it’s a shame we never hear it properly sung.

As for the rest…
Well some of the music does naturally sound a bit dated, a lot of cheesy guitar stuff and many recurring musical motifs from different songs. I think that’s something used to great effect in places as it instantly draws parallels between bits of the story you perhaps wouldn’t have thought to compare.

Oh what a Circus is a good intro, and is as good an example as any of what a peculiarly snide narrator Banderas’s character is. I’m not sure what the intention was with that, maybe it’s supposed to get us on side with Evita’s character when it would be easy to think she’s just a bit of a whore-bag (which ended up happening to Madonna at that stage of her career).

On this night of a thousand stars has another decent melody, but Jimmy Nail? Well he’s not going to win any beauty pageants but it’s not that bad. Total cheese though.

The Lady’s got potential is a bit of a lump, trying to set Argentinian military politics to a rather Status Quo-sounding rockout. A bit cringey, but I suppose the film segment did its job well, it’s just a shame the song couldn’t have had more gravitas. It certainly doesn’t benefit from listening to it separately from the film.

The Charity Concert / The art of the possible, is mainly a reprise of A night of a thousand stars, with Jimmy Nail hitting a great note at the end, but after that the track is just audio filler and chock full of plot exposition, and a nice bitchy put-down from Jimmy.

Rainbow Tour: Oh here is the snarky narrator again, hating on Madonna’s … um Evita’s world tour. So it went well, with a rather naff but catchy chorus, and though Europe loved her, they didn’t live for her “They ACTUALLY called me a WHORE!”. Luckily she had that terminal illness to fall back on to drum up a bit of sympathy and to have an excuse to make a quick exit.

And the money kept rolling in (and out): Banderas is getting snippy again, now even the charity campaign is coming under fire, the misery guts. Don’t like the song that much.

She is a diamond: Poor Evita, QUEEN OF HEARTS. Peron doesn’t get very far convincing his government that she’s not a power-mad super-slut, but he does show some rare tenderness towards his mental wife, especially given she’s totally peaked by this point.

Santa Evita: I quite like this, even though it is a choir of KIDS. It’s quite a sweet song.

So that’s that. I managed to watch the movie while I was going through this little mission, and while I enjoyed the movie quite a lot after becoming familiar with the songs, I find the score a lot easier to listen to on its own. Evita is such an interesting character in this, now I can’t imagine it being anyone other than Madonna in the role, there seem to be a lot of similarities in their characters. As far as the music goes, it’s obviously not the usual stuff I would listen to but I have grown a lot more used to it now.

I remember thinking this was total shit apart from the singles during the first few times I listened to this years ago, but this is definitely a complete work. As such it’s very difficult to judge the songs individually.

Keepers for the iPod:
Buenos Aires, Another Suitcase in another hall, I’d be surprisingly good for you, Don’t cry for me Argentina, You must love me, Lament (from the Reinvention tour)


Filed under Albums, Music, Reviews

Film: “Les Misérables” (2013)

Les Mis? More like LAME AS!

Oh not really, I’d just been sitting on THAT badboy for a while. The truth is, I knew broadly what I was letting myself in for, as would most people I think, since “Les Misérables” is one of the most famous musicals there is. I just didn’t really have it down as Oscar bait, but here we are, 8 nominations later – including Best Picture, Best Actor (for Wolverine) and Best Supporting Actress (for Catwoman).

Les Miserables movie posterFor what it’s worth, it was going to be a hard sell for me. I’m never one for tearfully shouting BRAVA at the screen, and this did little to change that. I can hardly criticise a musical for having too many songs – sure there was some dead wood I could have done without, some reprises wouldn’t have hurt – but I guess it’s just a LONG film. I suppose it’s the singers that didn’t really set many of the songs off, often filled with squawky peasant choruses, or the croaky tones of the lead male roles.

Anne stole the show in this respect for “I dreamed a dream”. She certainly gave it her all, and it was a shame her role in the film was so small (in screentime at least). Everyone was certainly trying their best, perhaps some of the revolutionary young men were a bit hammy, but I can’t say it lacked passion.

Maybe that’s my problem, I didn’t feel that there were any roles that really resonated with me. Twinned with a majority of the songs not doing a lot for me, it just felt a little padded out. The story itself was ambitious and full of high drama, I can at least see why it has lasted so long.

Production values too were pretty lavish, even though they tried to force a lot of reality in by the almost constant presence of Shakycam, always up in the cast’s faces. Eddie Redmayne looks too much like a freckly sixth-former to take such scrutiny!

So I don’t feel like I’ve wasted my time, but it’s another one to add to the colossal pile of “Critically Acclaimed” films that I didn’t quite see the fuss about. Would a SuBo cameo have killed them?

1 Comment

Filed under Films, Reviews