Bestival 2007

British festivals typically mean lots of music, lots of camping and of course, generally lots of rain. Considering how “summery” the last few months had been, I was a little worried that this last weekend was going to be washed out because I was going along to Bestival 2007. We were all banking on good weather, taking Friday off to drive down to the three-day festival and Monday to have a bit more of a leisurely pace back to London.


It turned out that we had fantastic festival weather, and the entire Bestival experience was thoroughly enjoyable. Music highlights had to be The Chemical Brothers who put on their typically awesome act accompanied by a spectacular light show, the ever energetic The Gossip and then The Foals, a new Indie band who put out a great set in the BBC Introducing. On the disappointing side, The Beastie Boys who I’d seen perform a brilliant set back at Big Day Out, managed to cause the crowd to thin out quite well during their Saturday night set. We also caught the end of Carl Craig’s rather dull and low key set which didn’t seem to match the energetic mood everyone was in at 4 in the morning.

Although there were plenty of music acts, many of them were I didn’t rate on the “must see” list. The upside is that there wasn’t as much pressure to go to all the stages, and I could indulge in the company of other festival goers, chill out in the sun and just generally meander throughout the rest of the festival. There’s plenty of alternative entertainment, including glitter wrestling, an inflatable castle with almost hourly marriage services (Ben and Polly’s one on Sunday was a stunner), a burlesque tea tent, a comedy tent and just plenty of places to lounge around and soak up the atmosphere.

Another big draw card, quite unique to this festival is it’s fancy dress theme. Even though it’s based on a poem, all of it is optional, and so here’s what I went as. It was amazing at how much some people really got into their costumes, with many of them hand crafted to superb detail, especially those that co-ordinated an entire group costume.

It was a great taste of what British festivals should be like when it’s not raining and full of mud and could definitely go back another year.

Singapore Chilli Crab Festival

Chinese LanternThis weekend the Truman Brewery played host to the Tiger beer sponsored Signapore Chilli Crab Festival. What looks like a yearly event, this one celebrates one of the Singaporean most famous dishes with a small amount of entertainment and food available for purchase. We turned up at about 4 in the afternoon, which was probably much too late with a line extending all the way out of the Truman Brewery, around the corner down Brick Lane and what looked like a couple of blocks (and that was just for the food).

At some point even later in the afternoon, they stopped people joining the food queue as they had apparently run out of food for the day. All of the food looked like it was sponsored by a restaurant in Bayswater called Kiasu and apparently you could order the crab there instead. Although Tiger sponsored the event and had set up a number of stalls serving their beer, I was surprised to find that their “special” of 4 beers at £12 was so expensively priced.

Although entertainment lacked any real bite (we caught a small glimpse of a Chinese magician and a lone Chinese Dragon dance) and we did not end up tasting their famous crab, we still had a pretty nice time enjoying the last vestiges of summer. Here’s the small number of photos from the day.

Boeing Boeing

Last Monday I went along to see a comical theatre show called Boeing Boeing. The script is extremely old with a movie released in 1965 with actors such as Tony Curtis and Jerry Lewis. The story is simple with a small cast of only six people based in a stunning apartment in the middle of Paris. It is set in a time when the aviation industry is starting to take off and revolves around the man that owns the apartment and his three flight hostess fiancés (one from America, one from Italy and one from Germany). Things get complicated when a mate of his comes to visit and is let in on the little secret and all while his maid is trying to keep up with everyone’s whims.

It’s got some great lines that just keep coming and coming and although some of them are admittedly a little cliché, it certainly kept the audience laughing throughout the entire night. It was so funny that some of the audience were randomly laughing even though the actors weren’t saying anything and it even got to a point where one of the actresses had to turn away because of a fit of giggles.

It’s a great show I can recommend to anyone even though the play is coming to an end of its season in London. Rating: 9 out of 10

The Feeling @ Hammersmith Apollo

On the Friday before heading out on holidays, I had a couple of tickets to see pop band, The Feeling at the Carling sponsored venue, the Hammersmith Apollo. Surprisingly the venue was busy but wasn’t completely sold out given a number of empty seats around us. The Fray performed as the support act and obviously had a large following in the audience given the amount of clapping from the audience. They placed a decent set that lasted for almost an hour before the switch to the main act.

The Feeling

The Feeling opened with an appreciation for their fans by projecting footage of their fans singing their songs on to a huge white sheet. The clips were pulled from You Tube and played for about ten minutes before kicking into the set for the evening. The band’s main singer, Dan Sells, though sometimes overly camp at times, performed perfectly as the hyper-active and obviously passionate lead singer. It was obvious that he enjoyed the attention of the crowd and fed that energy back interacting well with the audience. He had such a great rapport with the audience that he managed to pull off a harmony involving the entire audience – the best I’ve ever seen. They performed a great set, playing most of the songs from their album, a few covers and a double encore (admittedly the first only lasted a single song) and finishing up with the title song of their debut album, Twelve Stops From Home.

A fun performance with a great light show and a very entertaining set of performers. Rating: 7.5 out of 10

The Lion King

Last night I finally managed to see the much talked about Lion King at The Lyceum Theatre. The story should be pretty well known since it follows almost exactly the story of the original movie and is filled with the same rich music. The highlights for me included the amazing costumes and devices they employ to help the production including the elephant and giraffe costumes, the lion and hyena masks, and finally the Zazu bird puppet. Almost every part of this musical impressed me except for a few small parts that I thought the director over indulged in their “abstract” interpretation but I still highly recommend seeing it. The songs are moving, the characters bright and colourful and is a fantastic conversion from an animated film to a live performance on stage. Rating: 8 out of 10

The Color Purple

The Color PurpleUnlike most West End tickets in the UK, tickets for Broadway shows seem to have a great variation with almost all tickets on last minute sites going for several hundred US dollars even though the original price is about twenty to forty US dollars. However thanks to a little hunting around I found a decently priced ticket offered by Razor Gator to see the Oprah Winfrey presented Broadway show, The Color Purple (sorry for the American spelling but I think it’s more correct in this case). At first I thought Razor Gator seemed a little dodgy when they told me to pick up my ticket from a bartender at an Italian restaurant just off Broadway but it all worked in the end and I got my ticket in the nose-bleed section of the theatre. The seat was actually not bad since they hadn’t sold out the entire theatre and there weren’t that many people sitting in front of me so I had a good view of the stage.

This musical follows the life of a small African American girl as she goes through all the trials and tribulations of living in the early 1900s. We see her mistreated as a child, abused as a wife, make friends with stronger female characters and ultimately triumph over all adversity in the typical heartfelt manner. Unsurprisingly, given the theme of this musical, the crowd was largely composed of large groups of African Americans. The set and the costumes are simple but very appropriate given the setting. The music on the other hand is extremely colourful and the songs are very catchy including that little bit of jazz, bit of blues, a touch of gospel and a hint of ragtime.

I’m glad that I saw this show in Broadway as I think it’s most apt played by Americans and the strong appreciation of the audience and it certainly makes up for the last show I saw. Rating: 7.5 out of 10

Slava’s Snowshow

New York’s Broadway is well known for its entertainment, so my sister and I lined up at the TKTS booth to get some discount tickets to watch a show. The queue was massive and by the time we got there, they did not have any great seats for well known Broadway shows left, so we ended up getting tickets for something off Broadway downtown called Slava’s Snowshow.

Slava’s Snowshow is unlike anything that I’ve seen before. I had no idea what to expect and had I known I would have definitely avoided it. The best description for the show is to call it a clown show set in a winter landscape. Probably most suited for a small theatre and for an audience full of kids, this short show (think an hour and a half already including the twenty minute intermission) failed to really capture any real excitement and laughter from much of the audience.

Most of the clown tricks were extremely dull and barely any of them innovative. The clowns’ costumes were at least bright and colourful and that was probably the brightest thing in the show, with the music very cliché or boring and the props not very exciting.

I unfortunately don’t have much good to say about this show, because frankly there’s not much in there, and I don’t think you get any value for your money whatsoever. My only consolation is that we didn’t pay at least full price for our tickets. Rating: 2 out of 10