Kylie Minogue, Brighton Pride, 3 Aug 2019

In May 2005, I went to see Kylie on her Showgirl tour at the Earls Court Exhibition Centre with my friend Billy.   Our tickets had us seated high up in the gods near the back of the arena, possibly as far from Ms. Minogue as it was possible to get.

Fast forward fourteen years to early 2019 and Brighton Pride announced what many of us had been expecting; Kylie Minogue was to headline their park event in August.  Being a fan of hers since I was 15, I decided that I wanted to rectify my previous live Kylie experience and do it properly this time.  To that end, I stumped up for Golden Circle tickets, a bit nervous at the expense and not realistically expecting anything very special, my gamble paid off when we reached the venue and saw that I couldn’t have hoped for a better view.

Expecting to wait a couple of hours for Kylie to appear, a special surprise addition to the line-up was announced with Emeli Sande appearing on the huge side screen, waiting backstage.   Striding onto stage, she greeted the crowd and announced that this was her first Pride event.   Completely engaging with the audience, she did a short set of her biggest four songs plus one from her forthcoming album culminating in the rousing ‘Read All About It, Pt. III’.   This was the perfect way to start an awesome evening.

Brighton Drag Queen, the incomparable Lola Lasagne, appeared afterwards to introduce the Brighton Pride campaign video.  This is a tough watch but as we enjoy ourselves at a party and then move on with our daily living, it’s necessary to keep in mind how far the Pride movement has come and how much is left to do, globally.

Then came the main event heralded a little before by the stage crew assembling the now familiar Kylie festivals tour staging.   Just before the live appearance, a video filmed in Brighton of her last single ‘New York City’ was put on the screens.

The video then led directly onto the dancers coming on stage to turn the mirrors around, with the last one revealing Kylie herself.  Needless to say, the crowd went wild!

This was pretty much the same set that Kylie performed at Glastonbury with a few special tweaks for her audience as well as a special addition (that I’ll come on to later).  What was different from Glastonbury was that here, Kylie had more time to bond with the crowd and really, this crowd is composed of the people who perhaps love and support her the most.

Her opening live number, ‘Love at First Sight’ just so happens to be one of my all-time favourites Kylie songs so I was immediately happy.

The big highlight came just before the end when after ‘The Locomotion’, especially for us, Kylie added ‘Your Disco Needs You’ into her setlist. This is possible the perfect, iconic gay song – it’s a throwback to the Village People, it’s disco, it’s over the top with operatics and it’s Kylie.   I’ve never seen or heard a crowd go into such a frenzy of joy and excitement.

With the crowd still buzzing from this, she ended her main set with ‘All the Lovers’, even the security staff behind us joined the party, encouraging and rousing the folks behind us.

Most often when I go to a concert, I reach a point where I’m ready to go home.  I didn’t reach that point and I don’t think many others did…  It’s also not often that I go to a concert where I know all the lyrics to all the artists’ songs, again I wasn’t the only one.


  • New York City
  • Love at First Sight
  • I Should Be So Lucky
  • On a Night Like This
  • Get Outta My Way
  • What Do I Have to Do?
  • Never Too Late
  • Je Ne Sais Pas Pourquoi
  • Hand on Your Heart
  • In Your Eyes
  • The One
  • Slow
  • Confide in Me
  • Kids
  • Can’t Get You Out of My Head
  • Especially for You
  • Shocked
  • Step Back in Time
  • Better the Devil You Know
  • Where the Wild Roses Grow
  • The Loco-Motion
  • Your Disco Needs You
  • All the Lovers


  • Dancing
  • Spinning Around

Barbra Streisand, BST Hyde Park, 7 Jul 2019

This was my first visit to a British Summer Time (BST) event; a bit of a mini Glastonbury with a sizeable chunk of Hyde Park given over to a full day’s worth of music, eating and drinking. There were three different music tents with some other side attractions; the ‘Barclaycard Sensorium’ basically consisted of an elevated bar that you entered through a dark tunnel full of foam gym rollers stuck to the walls!

The main draw on the ‘Great Oak Stage’ on Sunday 7th July (2019) was Barbra Streisand but before that we were treated to Richard Marx, the Kingdom Choir, Kris Kristofferson and Bryan Ferry.

When we’d arrived at the park, getting in was ok, there was a huge queue but they very efficiently got everyone in. The problem lay when we got inside the park and everyone was kettled just prior to the main area for what seemed like ages. The reason we found out later on, was that Ms Streisand wasn’t happy with the soundcheck. It was worth the wait.

Starting with an ‘Overture’ that lulled the excited crowd into thinking she would appear any second, it took a good 5 minutes before she eventually appeared, a vision in pink, the crowd went wild. Her opening number was a bespoke version of ‘As If We Never Said Goodbye’, slotting in numerous, funny references to the UK, London and the Royal Family – the crowd was now putty in her hands.


Throughout the show, Babs had some talky moments ‘Did you go to the Pride parade yesterday? Her driver had asked, ‘No, why would I? I knew they’d all be here’. Then later on talked us through some photos from her scrapbook covering her six decade long career with the focus on her UK trips when filming and performing.  I was especially delighted to see a photo from ‘On a Clear Day you Can See Forever’ shot outside the Brighton Pavilion.

This being Barbra Streisand there were many few bizarre moments, some intentional and some really not. The most bizarre being her rendition of ‘Silent Night’! Nearly everyone looked at each other completely befuddled at her singing a Christmas carol in the middle of summer. Also, just prior to the encore, her three (cloned, I believe) pooches were wheeled on to the stage in a pram for us all to say hello to.

Barbra also had three guests join her in duets on stage, ranging from the sublime to the car-crash: Ramin Karimloo, who we’d seen on stage as the Phantom a few years ago was brought on to sing a solo enabling Babs to shuffle off for a costume change. When she came back they sang a lovely rendition of ‘Music of the Night’. Even though it was an odd choice for a duet, they made it work.

The other two duets weren’t quite as successful. Kris Kristofferson had done 45 mins earlier in the day and from what we’d heard from across the park, it wasn’t great. Barbra then later brought him on stage to duet with her their track from ‘A Star is Born’ ‘Lost Inside of You’. The audience went wild as he came on but then it felt like she was helping him limp through a song he could barely remember. Quite a while after, another ‘secret’ special guest was Lionel Richie who performed a duet of ‘The Way We Were’ but it seemed like Mr Ritchie was out of time and he’d crucially forgotten the opening lyric! This was always better as a solo and I really wish she’d it kept it that way.

Highlights for me included ‘No More Tears (Enough is Enough)’ which got the crowd exuberantly singing along, the beautiful ‘Send in the Clowns’ and the encore cover of Judy Garland’s ‘The Man That Got Away’.

Barbra showed the 65,000 strong audience exactly why she is counted as one of the all-time greats and still is, her voice and stage presence being as strong as it ever was.

Set List:

  • Overture
  • As If We Never Said Goodbye
  • Any Place I Hang My Hat Is Home
  • Alfie
  • Evergreen (Love Theme from “A Star Is Born”)
  • Lost Inside of You (with Kris Kristofferson)
  • Guilty
  • Stoney End
  • Woman in Love
  • No More Tears (Enough Is Enough)
  • You’ve Got to Be Carefully Taught / Children Will Listen
  • Second Hand Rose
  • The Music of the Night (with Ramin Karimloo)
  • Send in the Clowns
  • The Way We Were (with Lionel Richie)
  • Silent Night
  • People
  • My Man
  • What the World Needs Now


  • Unusual Way
  • The Man That Got Away


Honestly, the motivating factor for going to see ‘Betrayal’ was the chance to see Charlie Cox on stage given how much I loved him in ‘Daredevil’. I knew very little about Harold Pinter aside from his formidable reputation, the phrase ‘Pinteresque Pause’ and that he wrote a famous play called ‘The Caretaker’.

‘Betrayal’ is essentially a 3-hander (with a couple of very brief appearances from two other characters) where the three actors remain on stage for the 90 min duration of the play regardless of whether they’re in the scene or not. The story involves the affair between Emma (Zawe Ashton), wife of Robert (Tom Hiddleston), and Jerry (Charlie Cox), Robert’s best friend.

Told in reverse, the play opens with Emma and Jerry meeting up for the first time a couple of years after the end of their affair, the dialogue between them is beautifully naturalistic and awkward. The genius of the dialogue at this point is gradually and increasingly highlighted as the play goes on to chart various key points and then to culminate in the very beginning of the affair.

It sounds like a very simple story but without being mundane, it portrays very human, relatable emotions and situations. The technique to tell the story in reverse sounded daunting and at first I worried that it would be left to the audience to realise that one scene was chronologically before another but in this production, this was subtly projected above and below the stage. However, the audience does have some work to do in remembering where characters were emotionally and in their knowledge of events. It’s only towards the end that you fully appreciate the genius of this, at the time, ground-breaking way of telling the story as the betrayals deepen throughout and culminate in a heart-breaking and subtle gut-punch of a simple gesture.

Often, the scenes focus on just two of the three characters at any one time, with the remaining character lurking to the side or the back of the stage. Their presence is always there, for the audience and for the other characters. Only once did I see a flicker of interaction between the out-of-scene character and one of the in-scene characters and being so perfectly timed (I can’t express how well that was timed) it really felt devastating.

The staging is minimal in terms of actual things on the stage, aside from a couple of chairs, a table and some glasses;  the actors move and are moved round occasionally using the two parts of the central revolving stage.  What I found most effective was the use of light in this production; as the characters interact, shadows are cast at the back from a low light at the front positioning the characters almost metaphorically differently to where they literally are.

Tom, Zawe & Charlie are phenomenal in this; the focus and discipline this quiet, subtle, thoughtful piece requires really made me appreciate the skill of these three great actors.

I should also mention the use of sound; throughout most of the play there are some periods of incidental music as well as a beautiful version of Depeche Modes’ ‘Enjoy the Silence’ that punctuates a few moments towards the second half. However, it is the silences, those Pinteresque pauses, that are utter genius. This piece captivated the audience so much that despite it being coughing season (the end of the winter cold and the start of hay fever), you could hear a proverbial pin drop.

StoryHarold Pinter
CastTom Hiddleson, as Robert
Zawe Ashton, as Emma
Charlie Cox, as Jerry
DirectorJamie Lloyd
TheatreHarold Pinter Theatre
Date24 May 2019

All About Eve

There are some spoilers below but at the time of writing, the play’s run has ended and the film is 70 years old.

Playing at the Noel Coward theatre in London, this is based on an Oscar winning movie from 1950 by Joseph L. Mankiewicz and starring the inimitable Bette Davis alongside Celeste Holm, Anne Baxter (as Eve) and the vastly underrated Thelma Ritter.

It may have been written as a screenplay but it was ripe for adaptation to the stage given it’s subject matter. The play opens with Margo (Gillian Anderson) having just come off stage to be introduced by her friend Karen (Monica Dolan) to the ‘mousy girl in the trench coat’, Eve (Lily James). Eve is Margo’s biggest fan; she’s been at the stage door every night and attended every performance of her current production. Eve quickly, but a little implausibly, inveigles herself into every aspect of Margo’s life, making herself indispensable. Seemingly naïve at first, it slowly becomes obvious that Eve is very cynical, she has a plan and is playing the long game to attain her dream.

I felt that the play pushes the psychological aspect of the story further to the fore than the movie did and the stage production in particular reinforces that. Directed by the person responsible for ‘Lazarus’ a few years ago, Ivo van Hove, it’s no surprise that the staging is much different from what you’d expect in the West End. At key moments, usually larger gatherings and in one of the off-stage rooms (kitchen and bathroom), 2 camera-people mingle with the cast to get very close in on the action; a section at the back of the stage is where this extra bit of action is projected. There’s also a camera in the dressing table mirror so the actress’s faces can be seen by the audience. However, pre-shot footage from the mirror is also used to great effect in a few instances where we get the psychological take on the subjects’ state of mind.

The famous party scene (‘Fasten your seatbelts…’) is both hysterical (and shocking) where Margo gets increasingly paralytic and the party descends from polite, and a bit catty, to an embarrassing and unmitigated disaster.

Some of the UK casts’ British accents seemed a little ropey and ‘stagey’; I found it odd that Stanley Townsend chose a Southern accent for Addison Dewitt rather than go for the archetypal British villain sound executed by George Sanders.

It was a real privilege to see Gillian Anderson & Lily James on stage, Gillian exudes class but she’s not afraid to get her hands dirty in a fully-fledged and complex character such as Margo. As Eve, Lily James could easily taken the role from initially overly sweet and obsequious to the cartoonish, swivel-eyed sociopath but she manages to reign it in just to the point where both aspects of the character are portrayed more subtly and believably.

StoryJoseph L. Mankiewicz
CastGillian Anderson, as Margot Channing
Lily James, as Eve Harrington
Monica Dolan, as Karen Richards
Julian Ovenden, as Bill Sampson
DirectorIvo van Hove
TheatreNoel Coward Theatre
Date8 May 2019

Nish Kumar ‘It’s in Your Nature to Destroy Yourselves’

I’d seen Nish Kumar fairly recently on ‘Question Time’ then ‘The Mash Report’ and various other appearances on TV so when I saw he was coming to Brighton, I thought it would be great to see him live. I’ve not seen very much live comedy, just Russell Brand and Tom Allen but it’s always been good and Nish definitely kept my streak of seeing good comedy going.

Rose Matafeo

Nish’s support act for his gig at Brighton Dome was Rose Matafeo.  Rose came on and charmed the audience, well most of them…. all except Chris.  Chris was Rose’s first heckler; we were sat directly above so didn’t get to see him and could barely hear much of what he said but it was obvious that his ire became too much for him to bear silently as Rose launched into her ‘men are gits (but not all men)’ bit.   The key thing about stand-up comedy is that by its very nature, it’s not to be taken seriously and Rose she was just highlighting a problem by poking fun at it.   It was a bit like Mike Pence toddling off to see ‘Hamilton’; it’s great to expose yourself to different opinions if you have an open mind but seems a little masochistic to pay to go somewhere to be offended.   Though, I guess if your starting point is irrational, logic won’t tend to play too big a part in your decision making.   Whilst she did seem taken aback, it didn’t throw her off and she shut him down beautifully and assertively but I was curious to hear the content of her routine had she not had this diversion. She finished with some deftly observed impressions that turned the idea of what an impression could be on its side.

After the interval, Nish’s routine inevitably began with a further take down of ‘Chris’ who I gather had been ejected in the interval along with his mates (why didn’t they tell him to sit down and be quiet?).

As you’d expect, he spent a lot of time talking about Brexit and it was refreshing to see the uncensored expression of bemusement and frustration that you’re not really permitted to show on television.  He also recounted his experiences of racial prejudice in relatable situations and by making fun of how on a practical level it frustrates the object of it, the insanity of something like racial profiling becomes inherently ridiculous.  Though, as was mentioned at one point, a gig like this is kind of an echo chamber where you’re preaching to the converted.  I also related to Nish’s frustrations with when those people you’ve looked up to as role models (Woody Allen, Ricky Gervais etc.) then go on to let you down – what are you supposed to do with that?

Nish always comes across as a very charming guy and he really had the Brighton audience on his side.  I especially love how he frequently cracks himself up; when asked how he’d describe dial-up internet, a young lad in the audience replied ‘the internet of yesteryear’ which tickled Nish as much as it did the audience.

Nish’s tour ‘It’s in Your Nature to Destroy Yourselves‘ is on until the end of March 2019 and I’d definitely recommend going along (though Chris should probably think again if he was considering another booking).

ActNish Kumar, supported by Rose Matafeo
VenueBrighton Dome
Date1 February 2019