Archive for May 9th, 2011

May 9, 2011

13 Assasins (Cinema)

I just went to see Takashi Miike’s ’13 Assassins’ at the Curzon Soho. It’s a classically made Samurai film in the Kurosawa mold. The basic plot is that the successor to the Shogun is a psychotic monster and a group of Samurai is hired to kill him at any costs.

I’m an avid fan of Kazuo Koike and Goseki Kojima’s epic ‘Lone Wolf & Cub’ Manga. This is the first film I’ve seen that fully captures the way of the Bushi with the same spirit as that great work. The film, like the comic has a deep reverence for the nobility of the Samurai in their strict devotion to Bushido even while exposing the absurd lengths to which it can lead it’s followers. Both works explore the notion that a true Samurai would fight to his last breath to protect his master, even if he despises his master with the very same breath.

Takashi slowly builds up the tension, scene by scene and character by character for the first two-thirds. Every rustle of silk, every wrench of leather and every drop of rain used in the masterful sound design adds to the suspense. In the final third it all explodes in a cathartic orgy of slicing Katanas. A lesser director would’ve shown a montage of the preparations for the showdown. But Miike shows you nothing, so like the terrified enemy you have no idea what the assassins have in store. The editing of this climactic battle is breathtaking, I never once lost track of the action even when the titular 13 assassins are all taking on 10 men a piece. Takeshi Miike… arigato.

On a sad final note it seems that 16 mins of footage was chopped out for the international cut I saw.  I’ve no idea where the trims were made, or even why they were made at all!?!?! Hopefully the Blu-Ray release will restore the full cut that Japanese audiences enjoyed last year.

May 9, 2011

Ghostpoet Live At Rough Trade, 9th May 2011

When Ghostpoet started playing a the back of Rough Trade East it was just me standing there watching. Luckily for him technical difficulties intervened after the first track and they retired for 20 mins to sort them out. By the time they came back on stage the shop was pretty much packed (Such is Bricklane punctuality!). The gig was free to promote his new single ‘Survive It’ and of course his brilliantly titled LP ‘Peanut Butter Blues & Melancholy Jam’. The set built track by track towards the final performance of the new single which I shot on my iPhone and you can watch it below.

May 9, 2011

Candi Staton Live At The Jazz Cafe, 7th May 2011

For me, the chance to see a soul legend like Candi Staton was too good to miss. Although I’d heard in the past she’d occasionally been average, so I was a just a big ball of hope and excitement when she took the stage. We managed to get right down the front, slap bang in front of the lady herself (Fortunately not so close that we we’re passed the mic to sing along… like the poor sod in front of me!).

Her band was simply stunning, cranking out Soul, Blues and Gospel music with guts. The Bass was funky, the Drums were powerful, the Backing vocals were graceful and Guitar solos were shredded. My disappointment at not having a good view of the impressive Bass Guitar work was off-set by it being obscured by the Eye-Meltingly long legs of one of the backing singers that Candi had employed.

Candi herself delivered a stunning performance with her voice sounding as rich and passionate as ever it has. She launched into classic after classic like ‘Suspicious Minds’, ‘I’d Rather Be An Old Man’s Sweetheart’ (See below), ‘In The Ghetto’ and of course ‘Young Hearts Run Free’ (I’d have loved to of heard ‘He Called Me Baby ‘, maybe next time.  She finished on a beautiful Gospel reading of ‘You Got The Love’ with a bit of the Jamie Principle Bass line woven in.

All the band members did a solo at end which were met with rapturous applause. As she left the stage they went into the Jamie Principle Bass part again and it was only a shame that they didn’t mine this groove for a bit longer. But hey you can’t have everything and we all got allot that night.

Candi’s complete recordings for the Fame label are finally being released on June 7th so click here to pre-order a copy.