List of the Lost: a novella written by Morrissey for Morrissey

List of the Lost: a novella written by Morrissey for Morrissey

Without wanting to do a literary analysis of the book, I would like to talk about Morrissey’s novella, List of the Lost. I heard mostly bad things on its initial release but figured I’d read it out of respect for the (sometimes) great man. The premise is these four college lads, all part of a relay team, who encounter death in different ways and realise that winning a race isn’t all that important. The race is probably symbolic of life or summat. Why they’re a relay team, I can’t be sure — although I bet Morrissey will be basking in the fact that people are reading the metaphorical meaning in his work.

My overarching feeling is that it’s very Morrissey-indulgent; Big Mouth indeed Strikes Again with a dig at meat-eaters, the dumb American populace, and snide remarks about Maggie “Hatcher” Thatcher. Anything that Moz has publicly denounced in the past few years makes an appearance, though I’m surprised he omitted his repugnance for bull-fighters. He doesn’t pin his voice to one character; he is the aged and bitter athletics coach, the college girlfriend of one of the runners, then the murderous paedophile Dean. You can’t deny imagining he himself extolling that “Justice and the law are two entirely different things” or “I have found […] that there is very little difference between religion and racism”. Perhaps our author is trying to be somewhat enigmatic but you soon realise that each of these characters share the same distain for life and death that Moz has been pushing since The Smiths.

Many a successful author will pine over each sentence and Morrissey appears to do just that: ‘All quiet, all still in this decent and pleasant atmosphere of slumber and repose, where lush houses of beddy-bye shut-eye snoozled in sleep land; a smiling sleep of dreamland’. You what? It’s as though he’s aspiring to be Dr. Seuss and getting tangled up in excessive alliteration even more than I do. You’ve gotta hand it to him for coming across as well-read but when he tries to play the role of wordsmith with literature in the same way he does with lyrics, it doesn’t work.  It surprises me the publishers didn’t tell him that people don’t talk in the way he writes dialogue — especially during sex. Avoiding best I could other reviewers as I wrote this, I did sneak a look at the Guardian where Ed Cummings remarked that ‘the spineless mandarins at Penguin who brought this to print should be ashamed of themselves.’ Ha ha! Perhaps. 

The influences can be pinned to Wilde and Zola, and a great portion of Romantic literature — generally a plot ensues but for some reason List of The Lost doesn’t really have one. Yet Moz arrives at a mosh of modernity meets nineteenth century novelist with some archaisms and Naturalist references thrown in for good measure. This is exemplified in the strange sex scene where ‘they playfully bit and pulled at each other in a dangerous and clamorous roller coaster coil of sexually violent rotation with Eliza’s breasts barrel-rolled across Ezra’s howling mouth’ and I do wonder about Morrissey’s choice porn or erotica could be to conjure such an image. I’ve never written a sex scene so I’m not sure how far I can criticise — it just wouldn’t be like that.

Despite being symbolic of the American jock, someone whom Moz would likely despise, the runners are indeed knowledgeable and literary, name dropping the likes of Edgar Allen Poe and Onassis. It all makes me wonder who Morrissey is writing for. It hasn’t enriched my life in the same way some of his lyrics have (although nor did his autobiography). It appears to be written by Morrissey for Morrissey, with his fans straggling along trying to squeeze out any more of the astute Smiths sound and vision. Will this be a one off? Probably not.

 

Live at Leeds in Review: The good, the bad, and the breathtaking

Live at Leeds in Review: The good, the bad, and the breathtaking

A great mix of established bands, lesser known artists and those on the brink of making it big, Live at Leeds presented a wealth of musicians over the course of about twelve hours. Though it covered a fantastic array of venues, travelling between them and inevitable schedule clashes meant sacrificing a few shows. It wouldn’t be wrong to assume the Blood Red Shoes crowd might want to catch Los Campesinos! or Circa Waves so indeed my first thought was that the schedule could have been better thought out. Despite this, and Demob Happy being half an hour late to their half-hour set, the bands I saw and the day overall was a shining success…mostly.

Mystery Jets – O2 Academy

Mystery Jets had a queue backed up to from the O2 Academy to Beckett University and packed out the venue to the rafters so we could only expect big things. Desperate to push tracks from their new album, Curve of the Earth, it soon became evident that the crowd were only there for the band’s hit noughties singles, ‘Two Doors Down’ and ‘Young Love’ — only then did the crowd wake up. Of course these songs were left until the end, after we stood impatiently through two indulgent back-to-back six minute songs from their recent album. The single ‘Bubblegum’ had a fews arms waving but throughout the song we were anticipating a chorus or at least a crescendo that never comes. In trying to channel a Pink Floyd Dark Side of The Moon vibe through their new material and general stage presence, Mystery Jets are trying to emulate something they never were.

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ISLAND – Brudenell Social Club

Following a swift interlude, it was back to Brudenell in time for ISLAND, who were without doubt the highlight of my day. One of the bands I did some research on before seeing, I described them as a mix of Foals, Band of Horses, and possibly an element of the Kooks — nothing I hadn’t heard before. Yet seeing and hearing them play really enforced their unique sound and presence. The audience, though on the small side, witnessed a band who had a remarkable connection between each other and their music. Their instruments resounded in perfect harmony with the acoustics of the Brudenell music room, with ‘Stargazer’, their debut EP and the chorus of Spotless Mind, ‘What if I never asked your name?’ invoking a few voices from the crowd. The band’s confidence definitely grew as they progressed and captivated the audience, in this spectacular show. Watch out for this Oxford guys, they’re on the up — I can feel it.

Blossoms – LUU Refectory

Between seeing Blossoms play the Brudenell last October and watching a third time in Leeds University Refectory, it’s obvious they’ve amassed a huge following in the past six months. Contemporary cool, the band are all long hair, skinny jeans, dark lyrics and psychedelic riffs. Without an album release, it’s no surprise that the crowd can sing and dance around to their series of EPs. Although perhaps ‘dance’ isn’t the word as almost every song resulted in a sweaty mosh pit. But don’t let the rowdy eighteen year olds put you off; their pop energy is great to kick back and have a dance. When lead singer, Tom Ogden, serenaded us with ‘Stormy’, reminiscent of Alex Turner, it was difficult not to swoon. It’s hard to pin down their sound. The band have described themselves as ‘futuristic’, having been influenced by garage and disco but also the likes of The Doors and The Zombies. The Stockport boys have a lot to live up to amongst the legendary Manchester bands, so let’s hope they’re working on something special for their debut album release. So far so good!

Corinne Bailey Rae – HiFi

After pushing my way through overexcited Blossoms fans, it was time to rush off to catch Corinne Bailey Rae at the HiFi Club. Playing an hour long set (then insisting on playing a little longer!), she wowed the packed to capacity club with her older hits ‘Put Your Records On’ and ‘Like A Star’ and new album tracks, which she admitted she shouldn’t be playing before its release but was overwhelmed by the lovely Leeds crowd. At one point she left the stage and walked into the audience speaking to and shaking hands with fans, really making herself at home in the club in which she used to work; although the main reason for this was to request that the chatting at the back of the room quieten down because it was interrupting her set. Her songbird-esque sound teamed with a shining silver dress confidently told us she’s back and ready to return to the limelight in Leeds and the world over. Be sure to listen to her album, The Heart Speaks Whispers, released 13 May 2016.

White – Nation of Shopkeepers

‘Will anybody help you out, will anybody shoot you down, will anybody help you now, living fiction!’ Quirky, cool and vibrant, both in dress and music, White were one of the last bands on the Live at Leeds bill. Playing Nation of Shopkeepers, White, are a vibrant Glaswegian band, guaranteed to get you moving or at least tapping your foot. Definitive funky progressive rock with shrieks and electronica thrown in for good measure.

Article featured on LeedsLiving website.

REVIEW: Force and freedom in The Fruit Trilogy

REVIEW: Force and freedom in The Fruit Trilogy

The Fruit Trilogy: Avocado, Coconut, Pomegranate

Following her world-wide success of The Vagina Monologues, Eve Ensler is back with more thought-provoking theatre with The Fruit Trilogy. It’s divided down into three plays: Avocado, Coconut, Pomegranate, with each play drawing slight reference to the fruits. Premiered at the Southbank Centre last month, the show is travelling up north this week to the West Yorkshire Playhouse, though for one week only (4-9 April). The Playhouse showcased Avocado, the first instalment, back in 2015 and with much success Ensler wrote a further two plays of the same vein. The Fruit Trilogy, similar to The Vagina Monologues, presents the challenges faced by women in today’s society that slip out of the limelight but remain pressing and harrowing issues. Just over an hour in length (75 minutes), the trilogy packs in the issues of rape, prostitution, and reclaiming the female body then climaxes with a full-frontal nudity scene.

Dystopian Drama

The show opened into a complete darkness of loud clashes and bangs, making the audience jumpy and unsettled. Everything was played out on an ominous black platform, with only the stark lighting changes to conduct the characters’ energies. The two sole female performers, Amelia Donkor and Carla Harrison-Hodge first took to the stage in Pomegranate as two women for sale in a department store. Trapped in boxes, only their heads were visible, with plastic neon hair and ‘for sale’ tags attached. Evidently in a sort of dystopia, the floating heads discuss the past, their present predicament, and ‘them’ (the men coming to buy the women). Although very reminiscent of Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, the message is about human trafficking and ‘what if’ it were normalised.

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Women for sale in Pomegranate.

The second play, Avocado performed only by Carla Harrison-Hodge was a harrowing monologue of child prostitution, rape, and sexual abuse. She is trapped in what she describes as a ‘container’, which may be taken literally (perhaps a shipping container or cellar) or, as her erratic dancing and ranting suggests, figuratively as though she is trapped by her own madness. ‘Close your eyes, go back to the dark’, she chants in attempt to forget and escape her past abusive sexual experiences. The fruit reference is subtle, she must keep the avocado hard, in the same way she does with the male member.

Not so fruity

The final performance of the trilogy was Coconut, performed by Amelia Donker. The Quarry theatre, being such an intimate venue, allowed Donker to engage with the whole audience and keep intense and convincing eye contact throughout. The premise of Coconut is that a woman, moisturising in her bathroom, wants to reclaim her body for her own pleasure rather than anyone else’s. She wants you to see her moisturising and look, without being titillated or judgemental, and to simply see a woman moisturising. She challenges the audience as she rubs her foot with coconut oil, in what can only be described as a masturbatory fashion. She shouts and chants and presses harder into her foot, as though bringing her self to orgasm while yelling out Ginsberg’s ‘Howl’. The final full nudity scene was captivating but not uncomfortable and challenges the way we absent-mindedly (sometimes lewdly) look at women.

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Moisturising or masturbating? in Coconut.

Trapped and tricked

The overarching theme is entrapment: trapped in a department store, trapped in the mind, or trapped by society. Human rights activist, Ensler, enthuses how the theatre gives ‘platform and voice to the pressing issues of women today: trafficking, war, violence, and commodification’. The Fruit Trilogy triumphs in tackling these issues with memorable, shock-inducing performances. If you enjoyed the dark humour of The Vagina Monologues, or would like to increase your awareness contemporary female issues, this trilogy is definitely worth a watch.

Photo credits: West Yorkshire Playhouse and Southbank Centre

Article featured on LeedsLiving website.

8 Great LGBT Nights in Leeds

8 Great LGBT Nights in Leeds

This month we’re celebrating LGBT History Month, so we decided to stake out the best LGBT bars and clubs in Leeds and give you the low down on where to celebrate the equality and diversity that exists in the City.

Celebrating Leeds’ lively gay scene

Leeds City Centre is home to a fantastic hub of gay bars located on lower Briggate and curling round to the bottom of Call Lane. The aim of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender History month is to raise awareness of the huge gay community, teach about how it came to be, and highlight the problems it still faces.

So, here are our top 10 places, hopefully with something to suit everyone – whether it’s a quiet couple of drinks or a night you just don’t want to end!

Fibre

Fibre has been organising nights out in Leeds for over 15 years. It often has 2-4-1 drinks offers on spirits and cocktails. Each Wednesday there’s an ‘unplugged’ night featuring local acoustic artists. You can reserve a table, treat yourself to a VIP box or even hire out one of the bars for your own private shindig. It’s mostly dance music and welcomes an older crowd, although student discounts and the occasional student nights are on offer.

Mission 2

Home to award winning LGBT night ‘Homo’ every Monday night, Mission 2 is great for a night out during the week and always gets packed out at weekends too. Drinks start at £1.50 and it’s very popular with a young and fashionable crowd. The music varies and is usually current charts mixed with old classics. Saturday ups the ante each week so expect sexy dancers and lots of makeup.

Viaduct Showbar

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Showgirls almost every night in Viaduct.

Definitely one of the most popular and well known LGBT bars. There’s always something exciting going on, whether it’s dancing showgirls on the bar or just you dancing away on the dance floor. What’s more, there’s a party and live music in Viaduct every night of the week. You’ll find a great mix of young and old in here. Head down to see a live drag cabaret almost every night, or if you’re in the mood for a sing-song the All Day Karaoke Marathon kicks off on Sundays at 2pm. Drinks are pretty cheap and it’s free entry – so why the heck not?

Wharf Chambers

It’s not typically considered an LGBT bar, but Wharf Chambers hosts some fabulous nights including LoveMuscle – a techno, dance, disco and soul party. What’s not to love? It’s a membership only place but definitely worth signing up for. The members pick and choose which events they’d like to put on. Recently, it hosted the Leeds Queer Film Festival and other similar events.

Blayds

One of the quieter LGBT hang-outs, it’s tucked away off of Briggate. It does get pretty busy at the weekends but it’s a great pub for meeting people if you’re not feeling up for crazy night or drunk enough to hit Mission 2 yet. The music is pretty cheesy but with hits from the ‘60s to the present, it’s enough to get you in the mood for a night out. It may be small and cosy but the friendly owners offer a range of entertainment from Cabaret to board games to bingo.

The New Penny

This place is definitely worth a visit. It’s considered not only the oldest gay bar in Leeds, but also in the whole of the UK. It attracts an older crowd but it’s usually the last place open so everyone ends up there towards the end of the night. It doesn’t have the glitz and glamour of Viaduct, but it’s always welcoming and pretty cheap! In the past famous drag queens including Lily Savage have performed there – this place has history!

Bridge Bar

Bridge is open every night of the week! With free entry, you can stop by for a couple of drinks or dance the night away ’til 3am. It has karaoke, cheesy tunes, and cheap drinks. Fridays are home to hip-hop, Saturday is the resident DJ, and Sunday is usually dress up where the theme could be anything from toga to bondage wear!

Cosmopolitan Hotel

Smack bang in the middle of the gay district in Leeds, this is a great place to stay if you’re here to party. Known to host a meet-up for Leeds First Friday, the biggest Trans night outside London. A great place to start and end your night.

If you’re not fancying a night out, maybe check out the Hyde Park Picture House. It’s a little independent cinema tucked away in Hyde Park. For LGBT History Month, they’ll be showing Tangerine and Victim. Be sure to head down to the Yorkshire Playhouse too and catch one of The Dancing Bear performances this month.

Photo credits: Fibre (Featured photo) and Viaduct Showbar

Article featured on LeedsLiving website.