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Review: 2016

The first thing I told myself in 2016 was to document everything I do, which I've done, and you're reading it. That makes looking back and writing this so much easier to do than in previous years.

Music
I wanted to average one gig a month, I managed way more than that with the highlights being Chvrches at the Albert Hall, Underworld at the Roundhouse and Above and Beyond's acoustic set in Hackney. My favourite gig however was Anna Meredith's Scala show which was on another level. As well as the gigs I managed to hit a few festivals, witnessing LCD Soundsystem at Lovebox was something special, Super Furry Animals at By The Sea was entertaining and at BlueDot, which I think will become a regular for me, I preferred the DJs to the live acts with Cheeba, Yoda and Shadow all playing amazing sets.

I continue to see DJ Yoda way too much
Despite my best attempts Yoda continues to be the artist I've seen the most again with 5 shows this year and me giving up on a sixth as …

Film: Bill and Ted's Double Bill (and double Ted)

The Prince Charles Cinema has an excellent Christmas season consisting of Yuletide classics (including Die Hard of course) and some other fun nights to keep the punters visiting during what usually be cinemas' quietest time of year. 
One such night was a back-to-back showing of Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure and Bogus Journeys. Excellent!
First up was Excellent Adventure which is probably the stronger of the two as our two heroes travel back in time to research their History exam. This is great with an excellent cast, Jane Weidlin playing Joan of Arc being my favourite. 
Second up was Bogus Journey which is still entertaining but not as fun as the first one. This one sees the two heroes being killed and their journey back into the real world. The scenes with Death are great and I still like the fact Turbo from the Breakdance films is one of the robot us's.  This is also the film that features the best erection reference ever put to film "I've got a full-on ro…

Film: Rogue One

Don't tell the nephews, I'm supposed to be seeing it with them in January.
This year's Star Wars film is a self-contained story that sits between parts 3 and 4 and is based on how the rebels got their hands on the Death Star plans. My review doesn't really matter, you've probably already seen it, so here are my observations instead, which I've tried to keep spoiler-free. 
I'm not sure how two of the cameo appearances are in the scene they're in. It doesn't fit their timeline.
This films serves as a much better intro to part 4 than part 3 does.
It's definitely a self-contained story and works because of that. 
The Akbar look-a-like is sitting in a chair that looks like it was made from B&Q plumbing parts.
If there's a small character, it's probably Warwick Davis playing him. This theory still stands.
IpMan has a great line about being blind.
There's a great scene showing the stormtroopers inability to shoot straight.
The ending i…

Event: Brian and Robin Christmas Compendium

An end of year fund-raising bash compered by Professor Brian Cox and not-a-Professor Robin Ince saw an amazing array of surprise guests keeping a packed venue entertained for 4 hours. A long event but a good one, if you could tolerate the heat; it was very hot in the venue.
Anyway here's a list of the acts.
Jack Liebeck quartet played us in, a nice live classical soothener (is that a word) to get us ready for the show ahead.
Public Service Broadcasting who I've seen three times this year now opened up with a short set of their space-themed music. 
Helen Czerski gave the first science lecture of the evening. I've forgotten what it was about :/
Andrew Steele gave a very entertaining presentation on stats with some alarming insight into how badly we as a race spend our money comparing average spend on weddings vs health research for example.
Festival of the Spoken Nerd mixed music, comedy and science in an fun presentation. 
Steve Backshall gave a talk on sharks
Adam Rutherf…

Event: Bug 53

The final Bug of 2016 had a cold-ridden Adam take us through another selection of entertaining music videos with a great selection and a few that I'd seen in recent weeks that I predicted would be up for inclusion in the show.
"Vowels" by Capital Cities was a good start with a signing dancer taking to the streets of downtown LA. The choreography is great and at the end was cute! The director of this was Remy Cayuela. Two hours after the show this is the one I'm being drawn back to so is probably my pick of the night on that basis.
The second video from the recently reappeared Avalanches is for, what I think is, one of the stronger tracks on the new album "Because I'm Me". The director Greg Brunkalla has done a great job turning the mashed up track into a video about a young lad who's trying to impress a ticket booth attendant with the power of dance. 
The first time Katie Melua has been at Bug and as terrible as her music is the video here for &quo…

Film: Hunt for the Wilderpeople

This is a film that I'd seen advertised but had heard nothing about, then the Prince Charles Cinema started a heavy run of it and trusting their judgement I thought it would be worth seeing, even more so when they announced £1 a ticket for members. Bonus!
The film tells the tale of a delinquent kid who is put into the foster care of a couple who live on the edge of the bush. Circumstances result in them being lost in the bush being hunted by the authorities for reasons I won't spoil here.
The film is well told, and an entertaining film that would appeal to all ages, and I get why the Prince Charles are showing. If you're looking for something other than a Christmas film then give this one a go; they're showing it quite a lot. 

Film: Train to Busan

A great Korean take on the zombie genre set on an Express Train. It would make a great Left 4 Dead level as the zombies chase people through the train and through some train stations. Some great effects and a decent body count makes this a fun film.

Graffiti: Camden

Camden has a new Lost Souls piece so I thought I'd go check it out. By the time I'd got there it was very dark hence the poor colour.



This is the Lost Soul's piece. Very festive!






Also in the area was a wall that used to have a Dan Kitchener on it and now it has a new one by the same artist.


Film: Your Name

Your Name is a very successful Japanese film that has made its way over to the UK. It has become the first non-Ghibli animated film to break the 10-billion yen mark so it's a pretty big deal. It's had a fairly subdued launch in the UK, and I'd only realised it was being shown here after catching a poster on the underground.
The tale is of a city boy, Taki and a country girl, Mitsuha who become inexplicably linked through their dreams and they decide to find each other. Without giving too much away the story is a little different to the usual love story, and has a good mix of comedy peppered throughout, in particular from Mitsuha's younger sister Yotsuha.
The animation is stunning and rivals that of the Ghibli camp. The story is clever, and you can probably tell I'm not giving too much away; to do so would spoil things.
Highly recommended. 

Event: HyperJapan Christmas Market

Some photos from today's HyperJapan event. It was slightly smaller than previous events but the performances were better.
BANG is a robotic dancer which means there was a lot of dubstep. He also plugged the sales of his towel via an amusing promotional video.
Misaki Iwasa used to be in AKB48. Now she sings Enka, which is traditional Japanese singing. Hayabusa are a male trio that sing 70s style J-Pop.
Expensive wooden masks.
Authentic calligraphy.
Stunning art. Not overly expensive and I might get some.
Kiss meet a J-Pop band.
Puppies
Hamsters
Egg yolks. Gudetama is a creation of Sanrio who gave us Hello Kitty and is apparently popular!
The Hoopers are an eight piece girl band who dress up as boys, which means trousers and short haircuts from what I can tell. The advantage in having a large group is that there's inevitably going to be at least one that'll appeal to someone.
Shhh.... I won't tell you which I one caught my eye.
Some more traditional singing on a second …

Gig: Autechre "Black Friday" @ Royal Festival Hall

Here's a nice shot I took of Andy Maddox, who was one of the warm up acts for tonight's Autechre show. His music was accessible but unrecognisable to me. The other support act Russell Haswell unfortunately was both inaccessible and unrecognisable, in fact probably unrecognisable to Russell as well. He seemed to make the song titles up as he went along and the music, if you can call it that sounded like he was manipulating feedback in his equipment with a chainsaw. 
Autechre on the other hand looked like this, as the gig was a "lights out" performance. The point was to allow the audience to focus on the music, none of which I recognised, and given the responses of the audience, not recognised by them either. But I understand that may be the Autechre thing as they've cleverly evolved their live sound to be an organic construction rather than a replaying of their albums. What got the crowd to cheer was a recognisable snippet of something that sounded more like musi…

Show: Peter Firman "Trix" @ Soho Theatre

Middlesboro magician/comedian brings his Edinburgh fringe show Trix to London and I thought I'd go see it.
I saw him in London a few years ago and was chosen to help with a trick where someone's donated £10 note was going to appear in a monkey nut that I'd pick out of a bag. The show was very entertaining and so I knew what to expect seeing him tonight.
As it happened it was very much a repeat of the show I'd seen before even to me choosing the nut. Yes somehow I got chosen for this trick a second time. I also got to take part in a trick involving a drinks carton that could pour six different drinks. I got to confirm the third was indeed Irn Bru (and it was).
The magic is very good avoiding the usual cards and coins which is refreshing. My favourite trick was the one he opened with where he passes a silk handkerchief through the microphone stand. It's so good, and fast, that he does it twice. I think I know how it's done but I just couldn't catch it despit…

Film: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

A Brit magician with a large collection of monsters in his suitcase travels to New York and accidentally loses some of them in the city, where magic is still being kept a big secret. 
When I left the cinema having seen this I tweeted "I've just given JK Rowling more money and I wished I hadn't". That sums up my impression of the film perfectly. 
It's a great production but it left me disappointed. The Potter Universe moves from the UK to New York and this allows the Brits to be portrayed as the cliches we usually get from American made films. In Potter the British cast were not stereotyped; they were just British. Now Eddie Redmayne becomes a bumbling Hugh Grant character acting like a cross between Tommy Cooper and Tom Baker. At times I thought he might pipe in with "Half a Sixpence". The other Brit, Irish Colin Farrell gets to play the more common cliche, that of the bad guy.
Digital effects are great and you know the actors spent a lot of time in fr…

Gig: Anna Meredith @ Scala

A second visit to The Scala in as many weeks, this time to see Anna Meredith, an artist I was wowed by in Margate at the By the Sea festival earlier in the year, where she played a short set. Tonight Anna was headlining and we'd get a longer show.

Support came from Pixx, a young singer songwriter from South London who was accompanied by a very out-of-place guitarist and a keyboard player who looked like the guy from The Mighty Boosh. But stage presence aside, the music was actually decent and a good promotion for her new album "Grip".
In the run up to the show Anna had tweeted that she was going to start the show with something a little bit special, and she didn't spoil us opening with a surround-sound composition featuring two drummers: one on the stage and the second above us to the side on an overhead gallery. They were drumming to a heavy electronic composition that increased in pace, looking like it was making it harder and harder for them to keep up. Under str…