Posts Tagged ‘show’

Sarah Blasko in Manchester

Friday, December 6th, 2013

It appears that I am quite the Sarah Blasko fan. A few years ago, I saw her perform at the Quarry Amphitheatre in City Beach and was eaten alive by small, black worms that emerged from the ground as the sun went down. The second time was at the Astor Theatre in Mt Lawley – no worms there, just uncomfortable seating that didn’t allow for much dancing. This time I saw her on the other side of the world – a dedicated supporter of Miss Blasko. On Friday night she performed at the Deaf Institute (Matt, who was accompanying me, pointed out the contradictory choice in name for a music venue.) The tickets for the show were around half of what I had paid for her previous concerts in Perth. Matt and I were running slightly late and I was concerned we wouldn’t be able to get a decent spot. I shouldn’t have worried. The small venue was almost empty – I would guess the audience was no bigger than 50 people. You could see that Sarah wasn’t pleased with this fact and despite the audience members trying their best to show their support, she didn’t seem enthused to be performing to an almost empty room.

From my perspective it was fantastic – I had one of my favourite musicians almost to myself. Her voice was as brilliant as always and she was supported by two musicians who played a largely acoustic set. It lacked the jazz and sparkle of her other concerts but the calmer show suited the venue. And the red cockatoo-like-birds on the wallpaper in the room fit with the Australian vibe.

Sarah at the Deaf Institute

Sarah at the Deaf Institute

Sarah signed merchandise after the show and I now have her signature on a tea-towel as well as a photograph of the two of us together. I became ridiculously tongue-tied when it was my turn to say hello to her – oh, Sarah. You so cool.  

Burlesque à Paris

Monday, October 22nd, 2012

I have been wanting to go to a Burlesque show for sometime, not really knowing what I was getting myself in for. So when my friend Jen said she wanted to go to the Paris Burlesque Festival I said, “Mais oui!!”

Located at the Bellevilloise, a multi-level club in the 12th arrondissement, there were various activities, shows and areas to explore the wonders of the Burlesque world. The festival also had a Halloween theme so there was impressive facepaint and fake blood everywhere. Upstairs there was a bar area with stalls selling feathers and themed t-shirts, a particularly buxom lady with an impressive feathered headdress casting tantric spells over any man who dared volunteer, and a tiny boxing-ring stage featuring various acts including a mexican-hat-wearing Mariachi band and a WWW-style competition between two scantily clad ladies.

Paris Burlesque festival

Great hats.

Jen and I had bought tickets to see the main show for the evening – a selection of burlesque performers from all over the world dancing, teasing and entertaining us with feathers, leather, and not a lot else. It was fantastic! The power and confidence these women oozed on stage was sensational. They flaunted their bodies, teased the audience with flashed of skin and did it all in a way that was entertaining and sexy and in no way seedy. It was very inspirational and made me realise my ridiculous misconceptions of what constitutes a sexy female body – curves can be good!

Each of the acts had different themes and techniques – some told a story while others focused more on movement and dance. One of the stand out moments was a performer who made her own costumes and came on stage wearing a corseted dress that by pulling on certain strings and ties turned into a snake, then revealed detachable tentacles and eventually completely disassembled to leave her in some lacy underwear. Very impressive.

Paris Burlesque festival

Amazing costume

It was a great night and it has made me want to go and see more burlesque performances in the future. A friend of mine is a burlesque dancer in Perth – seeing this festival gave me a whole new appreciation for what she is doing. Go Ruby DeLure!

Men in Tights

Saturday, September 29th, 2012

On Tuesday night, Becky and I went to watch particularly fit men dance around on stage in tutus and tights. It was Les Ballets  Trockedero de Monte Carlo – a US based ballet company made up entirely of male dancers. These fit and particularly talented guys dress up as female ballerinas and perform a parodic yet skilled version of well known ballets.

Ballet Trockadero

Dancers from Les Ballets Trockadero

It was an impressive performance – the dancers were ridiculously muscular yet at the same time, showed the grace and beauty of female ballerinas. I spent a lot of time squinting at certain dancers trying to work out whether they were male or female. The scary thing was that ALL of them were more elegant and feminine than me. Throughout the show, the dancers they would then switch into more masculine poses, showing off their muscles, or would perform funny dance moves adding plenty of laughs to the performance.

Folies Bergere

Impressive building of Folies Bergère

The show was held at the Folies Bergère – an amazing performance hall constructed in the late 1860s that would have seen plenty of action in its lifetime. It was here that Joséphine Baker performed wearing almost only a skirt made of bananas in the 1920s. The male ballerinas that we watched perform, while somewhat ‘different’ and going against the norms, were really nothing compared to what would have been seen on stage in the early 1900s.

Horse at Folies Bergère

A sparkle horse inside the foyer

The overall performance was very entertaining, although it had a lot of scene changes that ended with the curtain going down, making it disjointed and somewhat confusing. No one really knew if it was the end of the show or merely an interval. There were also some technical difficulties – they had to deal with French electricity that has a habit of turning off at inappropriate moments. The last third of the show was performed under a large spot light as the stage light fuse blew (twice) and it appeared no one could work out how to fix it. The dancers just kept on doing their thing which was credit to them, however it would have been nice to see the show with the appropriate lighting.

Les Ballets Trockedero is in Paris until 7 October and then they go to Australia. They will be in Perth at the Regal Theatre from 15-18 November. Check them out.

(One of the) Best Days Ever

Sunday, January 22nd, 2012

Every now and then days come along that are just fantastic. You wake up and everything goes to plan or amazing things occur that make you laugh and jump for joy. Last Friday was one of those days for me, where I let down my hair and let whimsy take over. Thanks, whimsy. You’re a good one.

Here was my day:
7.30am – I met Becky down stairs for our usual morning run, but poor Becky had to pull out by the time we reached the first corner due to extreme knee pain. So I took it upon myself to run for the both of us, heading straight up hill to Parc de Butts Chaumont, and then down to the canal. Usually at this point we head for home, completing a 7km circuit. But I was feeling good, my legs weren’t tired and I had spring in my step. So I ran on joining one of our other routes and heading to a bridge that has “Cabaret Sauvage” written in shiny lights. By the time I got home I would have completed a 10km circuit. A great start to the morning.

9am – Breakfast. Having showered and de-stunk, I sat down and ate my usual banana, muesli and fromage blanc (it’s like yoghurt but better) concoction and continued to read Le Delicatesse. I am determined to read and entire book en français and have been given a short novel that I am slowly making my way through. I haven’t read much in French in the past as it is hard, slow going and generally frustrating as I realise how few words I actually know. But I am doing it! I am learning new phrases, new verb conjugations and actually enjoying the process. Fun times.

Between 9.30am and 12noon – I worked on some ideas that I have for a new book. I started researching my favourite street in Paris, Rue St Denis, as well as prostitution laws in France. Yes, prostitution. Fascinating history – it has shifted from being an acceptable and socially appropriate career to now being illegal. Despite this, it is extremely easy to spot in certain areas of the city.

10.30am – Morning coffee with half a gevulde koek.

12.30pm – Tom and I met Pip and her boyfriend, Manu, for lunch. We went to L’As du Falafel, one of Paris’s most famous and popular falafel restaurants in the heart of the Marais. As per usual, it was extremely delicious and ridiculously hard to eat as these pitas are stuffed full of falafel, lettuce, and grilled eggplant that just go all over your face and hands. So good.

2pm – Manu wanted dessert (I like this guy) so we wandered through the Marais before settling on le Pain Quotidien, a chain boulangerie that makes very good bread and desserts. I had a mini chocolate tart that fit perfectly in my stomach after my large falafel.

Chocolate tart

Yum.

3pm – Time to do something crazy. Pip talked me into going ice skating with her outside the Hôtel de Ville in the centre of Paris. It is a beautiful setting and each year the Mairie sets up an ice rink that people come and zoom around on. I am the world’s worst ice skater. Really I am the world’s worst at any physical activity that requires me to be balanced and moving at the same time. I stuck to the wall on the side and pulled myself along, my legs like two planks who refused to bend and glide, bend and glide. Pip eventually convinced me to go around with her. I didn’t fall over! I think that’s a positive. And there was a fun and supportive atmosphere amongst all of the less-talented skaters. I was sure to speak in my strongest Australian accent so everyone realised that I wasn’t from these European, ice-filled lands. I’m quite certain that Australians were not designed for ice skating.

Ice skating

Jess "Ice Legs" Davies

Anyway, for just five euros to hire the ice skates, it was a fun way to pass the time. The boys stood on the edge and froze. Silly things. And on my various turns around the edge of the rink, I could have acquired at least seven phone numbers from French men watching and saying, “Bonjour, la blonde!” They must be desperate if they’re willing to go for the dorky blonde who keeps saying “WHOA!” and almost falls over.

4pm – From here we separated ways and headed home. I went online and bought a Le Creuset pot for even LESS than I had seen in the shops! It arrives in the mail next week (I hope.)

8pm – We met Pip and Manu again for dinner Le Jardin D’en Face. We wanted to take them to our favourite restaurant before Pip and I head back to Australia. I had spoken on many occasions of the world’s best chocolate cake that can be found at this restaurant and so there were high expectations. Thankfully dinner (and the cake) were delicious PLUS the waitress who has been there for our past few visits mentioned that she recognised us and asked where we were from, what we were doing etc. When I said we were from Perth she became very excited and said she had lived there for eight months. Of course she had. Every French person between the ages of 22 and 30 has. So now we have a friend at our favourite restaurant. Hoorah!!

10.45pm – The night didn’t end there. The old saying, it isn’t what you know, it’s who you know (or rather it’s knowing people who know other people), came into fruition with Pip having scored us half price tickets to the Moulin Rouge. Pip works in the pub next to the Moulin, and the dancers come in for drinks so everyone is friends with everyone. This is fantastic when you want to save 50-plus Euros and see half naked girls dancing.

Moulin Rouge

Le Moulin

We were allowed to get in through a secret back entrance with a password, gate keeper and locked doors. Very exclusive. Pip’s friend and Moulin dancer, Alex, met us backstage wearing a face-full of stage make up and very dirty terry-toweling overalls. It was fantastic. All of the dancers were wearing these as they walked past with their heads high, shoulders back, looking ravishing from the neck up, and like trailer-park bumpkins from the shoulders down. I need to get myself one.

We were taken to our table as the show began and another friend of Pip’s was our waiter. Once again, this came in handy as he put an ice bucket on our table with three bottles of champagne. Thank you.

So, the show. I have to say I was a bit disappointed. The costumes were fantastic with some great use of colour and they were well designed to cover and reveal the dancers bodies. It wasn’t all boobs – some of the dancers remained covered up for the entire show and only the lead dancers revealed their ‘bits’. The dancers’ bums were more readily on show as most of the outfits involved minimal ‘bottom coverage’. It certainly wasn’t crude, nor was it overly sexy.

The choreography was a bit tired and could do with an upgrade or perhaps return to how it really used to be when the Moulin was in full swing. It seemed very 80s and some of the dancers looked bored to tears. It was the late show and I don’t blame them for being sick of doing the same steps over and over again, but the crowd is expecting some sort of enthusiasm. The girls were definitely better than the boys, with most of the guys looking like their mum was making them do it.

There were a few interesting moments involving snakes and miniature ponies, but really overly I felt the show lacked some sort of spark. Maybe my expectations were too high, but really I’d much prefer to spend that sort of money and go and see a band perform. It was a bit naff. I think the other problem was that the crowd was full of tourists, half of whom didn’t really seem to get into the performance. There wasn’t much excessive clapping and the atmosphere was generally quite flat.

The show finished at 1.30am, our day of Parisian fun over. Tom and I walked home and were finally in bed by 2.30am. It was a long but fantastic day and a great way to say “A bientôt, Paris!” It also made me even more determined to be back here in six weeks’ time for more good times and more good food.

Chocolate Land

Monday, October 24th, 2011

We all know that if I was sentenced to death and I was allowed one final meal before my beheading, it would consist predominantly of chocolate. Chocolate cake, chocolate biscuits, chocolate sauce, chocolate ice cream, chocolate chocolate… I’d probably ask for muesli and yoghurt as well, and lots of really good cheese, but I would leave enough room to gorge myself on chocolate so that I ended up killing myself with cacao overload rather than having my head removed.

Somewhat unfortunately, I don’t think I will be committing any significant crimes any time soon so my last supper will have to wait. However, I came fairly close to chocolate death on Saturday afternoon when I attended the 2011 Salon du Chocolat with Tom and our friends Sonia and Guibril.

Salon du chocolat

The Salon du Chocolat awaits

Salon du Chocolat is French for ‘Insane Chocolate Fair’ – a large convention hall filled with row after row of stalls selling chocolate related goods. There were high-end chocolate craftsmen, international chocolate makers, bio/eco/organic brands, local chocolatiers, and a strange assortment of chocolate paraphernalia (jewellery in the shape of chocolates, cooking utensils etc.) This being France, there were also two or three stalls selling foie gras and adding chocolate sauce in order to make it theme appropriate.

Salon du chocolat arc de triomphe

Only Leonidas would make something as tacky as this

The main purpose of the Salon du Chocolat is for retailers to present their products and provide little samples that amaze and entice you, resulting in the purchase of more chocolate than you really need. As you can expect from a chocolate-related event held in Paris, it was very, very busy. There were human traffic jams as everyone fought their way to the next chocolate sample. Of course, we’re talking about FRENCH humans who are incapable of seeing other people and who merely barge their way through, stepping on your feet, walking into you and then blaming you for the collision. I think Sonia and Guibril found my intolerance for the crowds amusing as I would push my way through until I found an empty space and then rest there for a while, calming myself down before tackling another onslaught.

As for the chocolate, I wasn’t overly impressed. There were a LOT of stalls and we did sample a lot of chocolate, however none of it really blew me away. I was judging each chocolaterie on the quality of their plain dark chocolate and I can’t say I really liked any of them. I put this down to two factors:

  1. It was mostly French chocolate, which, in my opinion, isn’t the best in the world. The French are very good at putting chocolate INTO things, however their straight chocolate lacks substance and spark. The Belgians kick French butts at dark chocolate making.
  2. The chocolate that was available for sampling had been handled by so many people before I could put it in my mouth. Gross, but true. The teeny tiny pieces that were on offer had been sitting around in strange temperatures and then chopped up by someone wearing plastic gloves. It was hardly the best tasting conditions and the chocolate suffered for it.
Salon du chocolat chocolate

Lots of chocolate

I may have felt differently had I been allowed to taste entire pieces of chocolate. Some of it was really dreadful though. I had a few pieces that had the texture of soap or were gritty and appeared to be full of sand. Not pleasant at all. On the other hand, the higher-end chocolatiers had some amazing chocolates on display with intriguing fillings and beautiful designs.

I did sample one piece of chocolate that did make me very, very happy – it was a japanese chocolate company called Tokyo Chocolate and the chocolate looked like a bright green worm. It was green tea flavoured with a crunchy wafer on the inside, surrounded by dark chocolate. It was absolutely amazing. I stood there looking dumbfounded for a little while, hoping they would give me the entire bowl to finish. Sadly they didn’t. The other chocolates on offer from Tokyo Chocolate were beautiful – bright shiny surfaces and amazing intricate designs. I want to find out where I can buy their chocolates because green tea is good for you and so I should probably have some more.

For Tom, the highlight of the Salon du Chocolat was the alcohol companies that were also promoting their wares with free samples. The perfect accompaniment to chocolate – a glass of Baileys Irish Cream whizzed together with ice. We spent a fair amount of time standing next to the Baileys stand, taking turns to get more rounds. It made tackling the French human traffic jams more bearable.

Baileys at Salon du chocolat

Thank you, Baileys.

Overall, the Salon du Chocolat proposed the ultimate experience and I think if I had been more willing to buy, I could have gained more enjoyment from it. However, nothing enticed me enough to want to make a purchase, particularly considering I have a box of Willie’s Venezuelan 72% in my kitchen. Now THAT is a death-defying chocolate experience.

Rich Snippet

Tuesday, March 8th, 2011

I thought I would show you this snippet of Rich Hall at the Sound Gallery that I was privileged to see live. If you listen carefully you might hear my laugh.

I Laughed So Much I Have a Headache

Wednesday, February 23rd, 2011

I have just returned home from one of the most ‘how on earth?!’ experiences of my life. I expected to come to Paris and have to fight my way through crowds at every event or show that I attended. I most certainly didn’t expect to spot a tiny poster advertising the American comedian Rich Hall on a window across the canal from where I am living. And then to reserve tickets at just 15 Euros each to sit in a tiny art gallery space with about 30 other people to watch Rich perform. The microphone kept disconnecting, there was a dog sitting in the front row and there was free wine and peanuts afterwards. Rich was hilarious and I managed to avoid becoming part of his show by following my dad’s advice and not sitting in the front row. That said, there were only about 4 rows so it was hard to avoid being at the front. What a great night.

A Night of Rock ‘n’ Roll

Wednesday, May 12th, 2010

Last year I bought my Dad tickets to see Rockwiz at the Perth Concert Hall, and, being the nice daughter that I am, I made sure there were enough tickets for the entire family (that way I was guaranteed to go!) The day finally arrived and last night we headed out on the town and climbed 3 flights of stairs to sit in our rather high seats on the top level of the Concert Hall. I like to think we were sitting like the Queen in a royal position far away from the ordinary scum who sit in the seats down below. Really, the show sold out quickly so they were the best seats I could get. It wasn’t too bad and we could easily spit on the bald heads of the ageing crowd below.

Rockwiz

So cool.

The show was a spectacle SBS-style – low budget but with the great personalities and relaxed feel that you expect from a fairly slap-dash performance. For those of you are aren’t avid Rockwizzers, it is a music game show hosted by Julia Zemiro and Brian Nankervis that involves crazed rock-fans who know too much, retired or slightly drugged (or both) musicians, hilarity and general confusion, madness and fun. Last night’s show was remarkably well organised as audience members are brought on stage to compete for the opportunity to appear in the official Rockwiz game show that’s held in the second half of the performance. This required making 24 excited human beings follow instructions about where to stand and what to do and it actually worked! Who would have thunk.

I’m not a huge rock and roll know-it-all, and the aspect of the show that I love is the language that gets used on stage. Julia and Brian spurt out quiffs and statements that come from left of centre and that surprise and entertain. They are quick witted and very eloquent and if I could choose 5 people in the world to meet, Julia would be one of them. Yes, I have a slight girl crush, and the whole audience seemed to love her last night. She speaks multiple languages, has great dress sent and is oh so funny. One day I’ll get to ask her how she does it and maybe I could be half as cool as her! Imagine… Anyway, the power of their language to capture an audience’s attention for 2.5 hours is quite impressive. I used to do drama at school and university and always enjoyed the notion of standing up in front of a crowd and letting words come out of my mouth, these then absorbed by the audience’s ears and interpreted in various ways. Perhaps I should start writing plays or performance pieces. There is a group called Cottonmouth who meet regularly for open mic verbal prose nights. One day I might get the guts to give it a go.

Anyway, it was a great night! Highly entertaining and part of the show included performances by Abbe May, some bearded dude with a guitar whose surname was Wagons (he was actually quite good. Here he is.) , Deborah Conway and Joe Camilleri (not sure about the spelling because searches on Google say  his name could be Cavalieri…). The downside was trying to leave the car park opposite the Concert Hall that is clearly designed by a sadist who likes watching people being unable to get out of parking spots. Thumbs up for Rockwiz, thumbs down for Wilson Parking.