Thursday, 2 October 2014

John Grant, John Lydon, and deconstructing Barbarella

I’ve witnessed John Grant perform on a few unforgettable occasions: a bare-bones grand piano set at the Bridgewater Hall as support for Efterklang; on the Glastonbury Park Stage in the middle of the afternoon in shorts and flip-flops (him, not me); and at the hottest evening ever inside Manchester’s Ritz, the day before he had his Mac stolen. Tomorrow (Friday 3 October) I will be pinching myself good ‘n’ proper as I travel to Media City to see John perform select cuts from Pale Green Ghosts with the BBC Philharmonic as part of the ‘Philharmonic Presents’ series, previously featuring Culture Club and Jarvis Cocker. Pale Green Ghosts is becoming an album for all time, one that the Philharmonic will no doubt be able to find new dimensions in.

On 9 October, old punks, young punks, bookworms and musos will be crowding into the Albert Hall on Peter Street to hear Dave Haslam interview the Richard III of punk-rock, Mr John Lydon. Lydon’s autobiography, Anger is An Energy: My Life Uncensored, is just about to hit the shelves so it seems he’s in the mood to talk which is good news for us, and for Dave. Lydon has, in his way, been an acute cultural critic over the decades, often in short and sweary portions, never without substance. Let’s see if he has insight into where he himself exists in the peculiar maelstrom of UK musical culture.

It’s hard to believe four years have passed since Peaches Christ and her divine crew of ‘Frisco drag queens turned the Cornerhouse upside down with a live-action show and premier screening of All About Evil, the debut feature length from Joshua Grannell (aka Peaches Christ). I like to think some of that residual performative magic stuck around; there’s been an explosion of drag and performance in the city ever since. On 11 October Peaches returns to Screen 1 with Bearbarella, a drag deconstruction and outré comedy based on the 1968 cult classic Barbarella, which will also be screened. Lady Bear takes the title role while the rest of the cast includes Manchester’s own Cha Cha Boudoir performers, so dress your sci-fi best and be ready to holler; there is nothing else like this in town.