I Heart Have I Got News For You

This might be one of those things where you just had to be there, but during the captions segment of Have I Got News For You last week, one of the pictures was a close-up of several medal-festooned Chinese military officials standing amidst others in a choir-like formation, eyebrows resolute and aggressive, mouths formed into perfect O’s fervently singing what must have been a political anthem.

Someone’s caption was “That man on the right is thinking: For God’s sake will somebody say ‘klahoma!”


Tori Amos (Hammersmith Apollo) / Rent (Prince Of Wales Theatre)

Tori on Friday. Rent on Saturday. Hence broke, grouchy and essay crisis-ridden on Sunday.


Was objectively good, but not what I waited seven years to see. As a performer she gave all the charm and musicianship I’d expected from her, but managed to choose a setlist with very few songs from her repertoire that I love, which is quite an achievement given how much I do like most of it. It could be argued that some songs weren’t possible because she wasn’t playing with her band – Hello Mr Zebra comes to mind as a song that might suffer from the loss of those jaunty horns, but you could also say that someone like her who adapts things like Smells Like Teen Spirit for solo piano could probably find a way round that.

There were songs that simply left me cold – Juarez, Honey, Suede, Not The Red Baron. There were songs I don’t “enjoy” per se, but still had to hear live, and was glad to have experienced – ’97 Bonnie And Clyde, Me And A Gun. Then there were songs I do quite like but which still fall short of the ones I truly love – Putting The Damage On, Little Amsterdam, Upside Down, I Don’t Like Mondays, Leather, Time, Cruel, Only Women Bleed, I’m On Fire, Landslide. Then there was one song I love – Playboy Mommy. This is why I ultimately left a little disappointed, not with her, I guess, but just by chance.

Songs I’d have liked to hear: Silent All These Years, Precious Things, Pretty Good Year, Past The Mission, Cornflake Girl, God, Professional Widow, Blood Roses, Hello Mr Zebra, Marianne, Jackie’s Strength, 1000 Oceans, Real Men.

Oh well. Just my view, others saw it differently, and I still left the concert no less of a fan than I was before it.


If you’re in London, and you’re considering going to the production currently running at the Prince of Wales Theatre, don’t. Adam Rickett is a terrible, terrible Mark: camp acting, reedy singing voice; whoever acted Roger seemed to think he was a member of Spinal Tap instead of a struggling indie musician and felt the need to strut everywhere crotch-first and generally just act very cock rock, had an accent that seemed to waver wildly between Geordie, vague American and comically stereotypical New Yorker, and a singing voice that couldn’t hack the high notes in One Song Glory.

Light My Candle was either directed by an utter moron, or the actors completely screwed it up. Either way, I don’t understand how anyone who’d ever seen a good production of Rent, listened to the soundtrack, or even just read the fucking libretto, for crying out loud, could have butchered it so completely. Musicals don’t tend to lend themselves to gradual development of relationships or characters. You’re expected to accept that he loves her and she loves him, truly madly deeply, usually to the death; why and how this is so is superficially explained at best, and just imposed at worst. The reason I’ve always loved Light My Candle is that it seems to convey, better than most, some feel of how people interact before the sweeping heartfelt declarations of undying love. The flickerings of attraction. The banter, sometimes shy, sometimes daring, the wondering, the hoping, finally the confirmation. We got none of this. No Mimi bending to search for her stash on the flood and Roger sneaking a look, Mimi noticing:

M: They say I have the best ass below 14th street – is it true?
R: What?
M: You’re staring again.

Just Mimi getting down on the floor and deliberately arching her booty up at him like a slapper right from the start.

No understanding of Mimi’s response to Roger’s quip about Spike Lee shooting down the street – first “bah humbug” because she’s laughing at the joke, second “bah humbug” at him, tenderly, a little awkward, their hands finding each other. We got two careless “bah humbugs” from the couch, then Mimi shooting across the stage and grabbing at him.

I realize I sound like a complete obsessive to anyone who isn’t familiar with the musical, and probably even to most people who are. I could go on, but I’m too tired and pissed off. Just be glad I haven’t seen a bad production of Les Miserables yet.