Musical fireworks, a film with the greatest tracking shot in cinema and comedy galore as Getintothis’ Rick Leach argues for the artistic merits of understatement.
Small and simple moments.
That’s what makes art significant and meaningful.
It may seem that we need the loud and bombastic, the noisy and chest-beating to attract attention, to catch our eyes or ears in this world of instant gratification and to work our way through the morass of everything that’s going on, but that’s not really the case.
Surely what we don’t need, and what we surely need to move on from anyway, is the constant “look at me, look at me” gesture. The loudest voice may get heard but that doesn’t mean that it’s the one of most value or meaning or lasting significance.
This doesn’t apply of course just to music, although that’s the prime example and we all, I guess, can be guilty of falling into that trap of hearing noise and volume and equating it with something of importance. Goodness knows, I fallen into that trap and continue to do so at regular intervals.
“You’ve got to hear this pysch album,” I may be told, “It’s like listening to paint stripper.”
And I’m gone. I’m hooked, I’ll rush out and get it or at least search for it on Spotify, turn the dial up as loud as it can go, and for a few minutes, if I’m lucky maybe the whole length of the album, think it’s the best thing since…well, the last one. I might even listen to it again.
But really, if I’m being honest, that feeling doesn’t last for long. It disappears and dissipates like an intense summer storm. You might get thunder and lightning and it’s very spectacular, but you soon forget about it. A couple of days later you can’t even remember when it rained.
What does leave a lasting impression and what really counts are the smaller and considered gestures, those quiet moments hidden below the surface, underneath the Sturm und Drang, those that stand someway apart, quietly distanced from the macho posturing.
In respect of music, on a personal level, I’m talking about Bach’s Goldberg Variations or maybe Young Marble Giants’ Colossal Youth album. I’m sure you have your own.
In cinema, it may be those small moments within a film, a small scene, a few frames, a snapshot. Something seemingly insignificant- a look between two characters, a raised eyebrow, a half-smile, the trace of a blink.
You look and it’s gone. But you know it’s been there and counts for much more than that tumultuous crash, bang and wallop of surround sound modern cinema experience.
You can find similar examples in literature (a chapter or even a single paragraph written not to drive a thrusting narrative ever forward but simply for the love or words and how they read), art (try the smallest brush stroke at the edge of a frame), theatre (the silence between words) and photography.
Less is indeed more.
We should praise the quiet and search for what really matters.
(On that note and a bit ironically, one of this month’s Arts Diary picks is a three-day firework competition. I can’t really resist the pyrotechnic equivalent of the latest Deafkids album.)
Jigsaw: A workshop series, exploring the nature and practice of free improvisation in music
September 11 7.00pm
This session, one of a series, is facilitated by Phil Morton who has substantial experience in the design and delivery of workshop sessions dealing with creative processes and the act of listening, both with his own work and through the experience working with such improvisers as Maggie Nicols, Pauline Oliveros, Eddie Prevost (of AMM) and John Hull.
Minton has been delivering sessions and managing projects on the nature and practice of free improvisation in music on a continuous basis since 1998, the shape of the content follows on from a review of those present at each session. All levels of ability and experience are welcome and rewarded.
The Jigsaw Workshop Series in Liverpool is a gateway to further collaborations, research and performance opportunities in free improvisation in music across Merseyside.
Picturehouse at FACT/NT Live
19 September 7.30pm
This is a chance to see the award-winning one-woman show that inspired the BBC’s hit TV series Fleabag, broadcast live to cinemas from London’s West End.
Written and performed by Phoebe Waller-Bridge (TV’s Fleabag, Killing Eve) and directed by Vicky Jones, Fleabag is a rip-roaring look at some sort of woman living her sort of life.
Fleabag may seem oversexed, emotionally unfiltered and self-obsessed, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. With family and friendships under strain and a guinea pig café struggling to keep afloat, Fleabag suddenly finds herself with nothing to lose.
The Sixteeen’s Choral Pilgrimage 2019
Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral
September 20 7.30pm
The Sixteeen’s 2019 Choral Pilgrimage brings together music past and present, highlighting their choral journey over the last 40 years.
In this concert, they’ll be conducted by Harry Christophers, founder of The Sixteen in 1979 and renowned for his work with Renaissance, Baroque and 20th Century music.
The Sixteen’s close relationship with Sir James MacMillan continues with a new commission, O virgo prudentissima, in contrast with music by Fayrfax performed on their very first recording, alongside music by Wylkynson and Sheppard.
These fine examples of English polyphony are juxtaposed with stunning music by Tavener (Hymn to the Mother of God and Hymn for the Dormition of the Mother of God) and Eric Whitacre (Sainte-Chapelle).
Touch of Evil
Picturehouse at FACT
29 September 5.00pm
Beginning with perhaps the most celebrated tracking shot in history, Orson Welles’s bravura film noir is a shadowy tale of murder, malevolence and police corruption. When a car bomb explodes on the US-Mexican border, Mike Vargas (Charlton Heston), a Mexican official investigating drug trafficking, is drawn into the case.
Vargas is convinced that American cop Hank Quinlan (Welles) is planting evidence to incriminate the prime suspect, and he becomes obsessed with exposing Quinlan as a rotten apple. Quinlan then seeks revenge by conspiring with gangsters, who terrorise Vargas’s wife Susan (Janet Leigh).
Welles gives a stunning performance as a man increasingly depleted of humanity, and his deliriously daring thriller with a dark emotional core is one of the greatest of its genre.
If you’ve never seen Touch of Evil before then we strongly urge you to get yourself down to Picturehouse at FACT: this film has the ability to change the way you see cinema.
And if you have seen it before, well, we’re pretty sure you’ve already sorted your tickets out.
British Musical Fireworks Championship
Victoria Park, Southport
27-29 September 6.00pm – 9.30pm
The British Musical Fireworks Championship is a firework competition across three nights, with competitors battling it out to be crowned the ultimate winner. Set in the beautiful Victoria Park, the British Musical Fireworks Championship promises firework displays like no other.
Expect breathtaking displays, arrays of lights and a mixture of music guaranteed to have you on your feet. The British Musical Fireworks Championship is a pyromusical competition. This means that the fireworks are set to go with the music and the entire show is choreographed to give the audience some of the most spectacular fireworks you will ever see.
Across the three nights, there will be seven 15-minute displays. Starting on Friday, last year’s winners Illusion Fireworks Ltd are set to open the event with an exhibition display, followed by six competitors over the weekend.
During last year’s competition, over two tonnes of explosive material was used with the total weight of fireworks used in excess of 10 tonnes. Each show required around 5 kilometres of wire to connect up the electrical circuits and around 15 technicians working for over 12 hours to set up the display.
It promises to be just as exciting this year and after all, what better way to send September off than with a big bang and explosions in the sky?
Look Photo Biennial
Williamson Art Gallery, Wirral
September 27 – November 24
A bridge between chapter one and chapter two of LOOK Photo Biennial 2019 this exhibition was first shown in China, at Pingyao Photography Festival.
This show takes a unique approach to the depiction of Britain and its distinct landscapes, industries, social and economic changes, cultural traditions, traits and events as seen through the eyes of twelve of the most significant and impactful established and emerging photographers working in Britain over the last six decades.
The exhibition looks at the gentle, the humorous, the starkness, the beauty and the realities experienced and captured by the photographers around their lives living and working in Britain.
Artists include Martin Parr, Chris Killip, Marketa Luskacova, John Myers, Elaine Constantine, Tish Murtha archive, Daniel Meadows, Ken Grant, Robert Darch and Kirsty Mackay.
Everyman and Playhouse comedy season
Various dates: September – October
Throughout September and October, some the UK’s best comedians will play Liverpool, with highly anticipated debuts, musical anarchists and comedy legends part of an exciting programme.
Sindhu Vee kicks off the autumn 2019 season at the Everyman on September 12. In Sindhu’s debut tour Sandhog, the Radio 4 Comedy of the Week podcast host tells audiences of the intense hard work that is required to love her children, spouse and ageing parents (in that order). But who wants to live without love?
Jonny & The Baptists return to the Everyman on September 13 following their performance in Lefty Scum with Josie Long in 2017. The politically-charged musical comedy duo presents Love Liverpool & Hate B*stards. Performed at this year’s Fringe, the ‘hard-hitting show with a soft centre’ received critical acclaim, including four stars in The Guardian.
Comedy legend Griff Rhys Jones visits the Everyman for one night on September 14. The Smith & Jones and Not the Nine O’ Clock News star presents an evening of hilarious true stories, riffs, observations and details of his recent medical procedures. A show packed with wit and insight into the pains of celebrity, the unpredictability of parenthood and encounters with the great, the good and even the Royal.
For five sold-out nights at the Everyman from 17-21 September 17-21, celebrated comedian Daniel Kitson presents Keep. – a show about, in short, the stuff in Daniel’s house and the thoughts in his head. Returns for Daniel’s show will be announced via the Everyman and Playhouse Twitter account
The Playhouse welcomes Justin Moorhouse on October 12 on an extensive UK tour. Following its success at the 2018 Fringe, the former Phoenix Nights actor presents his show Northern Joker. Discussing the certainty of his own uncertainty, Moorhouse tackles his feelings of redundancy as a parent, politics and an ageing dog, all while contemplating if the Northern straight white male comedian has gone the way of the dinosaurs.
Taking his interview podcast on the road, Richard Herring will bring the Richard Herring Leicester Square Theatre Podcast (RHLSTP) live to the Playhouse on October 23. Described as “the best celeb interviewer in Britain” by the Guardian, Herring and a special guest will chat on the Playhouse stage, featuring all the libellous claims too controversial to podcast.
The busy autumn comedy programme coincides with this year’s Liverpool Comedy Festival. Sindhu Vee, Jonny and the Baptists, Justin Moorhouse and Richard Herring are all performing as part of the festival.
June 5 – September 27 2020
Tate Liverpool has announced a major retrospective of the legendary British photographer Don McCullin as its Summer exhibition in 2020. Following the huge success of Don McCullin at Tate Britain in Spring 2019, the exhibition will tour to Tate Liverpool where it will be on display from June 5 until September 27 2020.
Exclusively for its presentation at Tate Liverpool it will feature a number of additional images, not shown in Tate Britain, of Liverpool and the wider region. Featuring more than 250 photographs, the exhibition showcases some of his most impactful photographs captured over the last 60 years.
It features many of his iconic war photographs, including images from Vietnam, Northern Ireland and more recently Syria. But it also focuses on the work he did at home in the UK, recording scenes of poverty and working-class life in the industrial North and London’s East End, as well as meditative landscapes of his beloved Somerset, where he lives.
Alongside McCullin’s hand-printed silver gelatin prints, the exhibition also includes the photographer’s magazine spreads, contact sheets, his helmet and the Nikon camera which took a bullet for him in Cambodia.
Having been born into a working-class family in London, McCullin identified with the most deprived parts of the north of the UK, including areas of Bradford and Liverpool. He recognised his own origins in the conditions of those he photographed and was committed to the practice of ‘reporting back’and publicly highlighting these areas that were largely unseen by the British middle classes.
Helen Legg, Director, Tate Liverpool, said: ‘The public and critical response to the exhibition at Tate Britain was overwhelmingly positive and we’re thrilled to be bringing this large-scale show to Liverpool.
We hope audiences will enjoy this opportunity to see his powerful images which cover the major conflicts of the last half century alongside McCullin’s historic images of Liverpool and the wider north of England.’
Don McCullin said ‘I first visited Liverpool as a boy of fifteen when I worked on a steam train that went into the city three or four times a week. As a young man I returned as a photojournalist. I spent time with artists and poets including Adrian Henri and Brian Patten for a Telegraph Magazine story written by Roger McGough; documented the police for The Sunday Times in the 1970s; and collaborated with Jonathan Miller on an assignment for The Observer.
It was a unique city but felt familiar to me as someone who grew up in an area that was also left impoverished by policies of deindustrialisation. I’m delighted to be showing my work at Tate Liverpool and to have the opportunity to return to the city, a place I love and has played a major part in my life and career.’