'No Jacket Required 4/2/2017 - The Hawth'

My music taste has been heavily influenced over the years by family members. Grandma and Grandad King are responsible for my Elvis Presley fascination and Nana and Grandad Bell are behind my love of country music. But a lot of my music choices have been taken from my Dad. I have vivid memories of being sat in the car in the passenger seat with my fake toy steering wheel listening to the likes of Madness, the Beautiful South and Genesis. I fell in love with all of these bands but there was something about Genesis that really appealed to me. I became a true fan when I watched the DVD of the live tour 'We Can't Dance'. I watched that concert over and over again. I adored the music and I adored the interaction between the band and the audience members. Particular highlights from that DVD were the intro to 'Domino' and the silly walk in 'We Can't Dance'. 

In 2014 I started the Creativity Talks podcast. I interviewed my friend and performer Jack Lane in episodes one and two. I asked if he knew of anyone good to interview for a future episode and he suggested sound engineer Dan Barnes. In episode seven when chatting to Dan Barnes, he brought up a Phil Collins tribute band he was working for called 'No Jacket Required'. I was intrigued instantly and I contacted the bands frontman Dave Whitehouse. Luckily for me he was happy to talk. Episode nine was with Dave and it was a fun interview, I asked him questions about his background, his love of Phil Collins and the band. At the end of the episode we talked about me attending an gig. Unfortunately at the time I was based in Newcastle upon Tyne and 'No Jacket Required' only performed in the South. Following the interview I made sure that I kept in touch with Dave, firing off a tweet or a Facebook message every now and then. He contacted me at the end of 2016 knowing I was now living in London, to ask me if I wanted to go to a performance on February 4th 2017. I jumped at the chance. 

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The gig was at The Hawth in Crawley, a beautiful 855 seat theatre that I didn't even know existed. I had talked at length about the band with Dave on the podcast but I wasn't prepared for the show they delivered. It was outstanding, they surpassed all of my expectations. I was happy to see that the venue was only a couple of seats away from being a complete sell out. I learned later that it was the largest audience in that venue for the band. I did wonder whether the recent publicity surrounding Collins and the upcoming tour had help generate a few new audience members.

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The show was filled with hits. It really reminded me of how much of an impact Collins has had on the music industry. Dave as the frontman doesn't pretend to be Collins, instead he captures the essence of his idol and acts as the guide through his career. The humour I talked about seeing on the 'We Can't Dance' tour was not lost on this band. You could see the twelve piece band loving every moment on stage. It was a joy to see them interact with each other and not taking themselves too seriously. It was like watching a family. It's obvious that they know each other inside and out. They each have their place in the band, they are like a well oiled machine and I wouldn't want to see this machine lose any part. One of the funnest moments for me was when they performed 'You Can Wear My Hat'. I was smiling from ear to ear. 

As well as songs from the solo career of Collins they also threw in a few Genesis songs. I couldn't believe it! The silly walk! Yes, 'I Can't Dance' was on the set list. Other Genesis classics were 'Land of Confusion', 'That's All', 'Invisible Touch' and 'Mama'. In terms of the Phil Collins hits, they played 'In The Air Tonight', 'Against All Odds', 'A Groovy Kind of Love', 'One More Night', 'You'll Be In My Heart', 'Easy Lover', 'Two Hearts', 'Another Day In Paradise', 'You Can't Hurry Love', 'Take Me Home', 'Sussudio', 'Don't Lose My Number' & many more. 

By the end of the evening the audience were up on their feet and dancing in the aisles. It was a fabulous night and I would not hesitate in going to see them again. Following the show I waited to speak to Dave. The whole band were out in the foyer of the theatre chatting to the members of the public. Just another reason I admire them all. As I stood waiting to chat to Dave, I began to panic. Realising he'd never met me in person and this could be slightly awkward if I have to say 'Hello, I'm Martyn'. Luckily he did know me and he also remembered questions and answers from our interview. I congratulated him and the band for an amazing show, grabbed a quick photo and left him to cool down or rather pack down. 

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Before ending the blog, I wanted to mention that during the show, before the performance of 'Another Day in Paradise' Dave mentioned that they were collecting money for The Bridge Trust. A charity that supports the homeless in West Kent. All of the merchandise money from the show was going to the charity and there were yellow buckets dotted around the theatre for any donations. I was thrilled to hear following the gig that they raised £746. But what is even more impressive is since they started this link with The Bridge Trust. No Jacket Required have raised over £25,000. I take my hat off to the band and to everyone who has donated over the years. Well, I would take my hat off to you if I knew where it was, you see....

She came looking for me with her arms open wide,
Like some long lost friend of mine. 

She said 'Excuse me, but do you remember me ?'
I said 'No, I don't believe I do'
So she looked me up and down
And undressed me with her eyes,
Then she said 'You've got everything I need, you've got everything I want'

So I said 'OK,

You can wear my hat,
You can have my coat,
You can take my shirt
Cause I don't need it.
You can wear my shoes,
You can take my socks,
Come on take my bag it's yours

LINKS

Website - http://www.nojacketrequired.co.uk

Twitter - @PCTribute

Facebook - No Jacket Required

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

'Revolution Pro - High Stakes 2017'

On Sunday 12th June 2016 I journeyed to the York Hall in Bethnal Green with my dad and brother. It was my first outing to a Revolution Pro wrestling event. The main event was Kurt Angle vs Zach Sabre Jr, the atmosphere was electric from the start of the show until the end. I loved every minute and vowed that I would return. To fuel my Rev Pro obsession I even managed to interview the commentator of the event I went to, Olly Hogben for the Creativity Talks Podcast. If you want to hear the interview with Olly, it is Episode 39

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It took me a while but this past Saturday, 21st January 2017 I returned to the York Hall. This time with avid wrestling fan and buddy Bobby. On this occasion I was the one telling Bobby what to expect, he was seeing this company with fresh eyes. In fact he was seeing a UK promotion for the first time. We grabbed a pint before the show in The Dundee Arms along with the majority of the people attending. 

Interim Cruiserweight Championship - Ryan Smile Vs Josh Bodom

The opening contest was for the Interim Cruiserweight Championship. From what was said by promoter Andy Quildan before the match, due to Will Ospreay being heavily in demand with Japan and Ring of Honour and unable to attend certain Rev Pro shows. Instead of stripping Ospreay of the title, they have decided to create an interim one. This decision has divided opinion. Some fans around me felt, if he's not there to defend the title then it should be given to someone else. I get that point, I also understand that Will Ospreay is one of the most talked about performers in the world today and that you'd still want him associated with the company. I'm fine with it, it reminds me of Shawn and Razor with the Intercontinental title from the 90's. The winner of tonights match will hopefully be in line for a main match with Ospreay down the line. The match itself was a solid opener, Bodom was getting a lot of stick from the loud crowd. The chants included (Fill in the blanks) 'You're a **** Slim Shady' and 'You're a **** Brock Lesnar'. Bodom defeated Smile by pinfall to become the new Interim Cruiserweight Champion. 

- RPW Undisputed British Tag Team Championship - War Machine Vs Charlie Sterling & Joel Redman

Watching Charlie Sterling wrestle is a little odd to me because he looks so much like one of my cousins. It's like some sort of alternative reality. However this was a great tag team match. The former ROH World Tag Team Champions War Machine were the crowd favourites in this one, Charlie Sterling attempted to get the audience cheering but he was instead greeted with loud boo's and 'You're generic' chants. Hanson from War Machine showed his speed and stamina when he ran from corner to corner body splashing Sterling and Redman for what seemed like two minutes straight. Sterling and Redman fought back, delivering a Tombstone followed by Spinal Tap on one half of War Machine for the win. Celebrating their win with the titles, they were attacked by CCS (Chris Brookes and Travis Banks). 

 

Yoshi Hashi Vs Pete Dunne

Pete Dunne came out first for this contest. He received a standing ovation from the sold out crowd, it was well deserved after his outstanding showing in the WWE UK Championship Tournament. However there were still some fans who wanted to attack him with 'You Sold Out' chants. His reactions were priceless, giving them a crotch chop and the evil eyes throughout the match. One fantastic heel moment that generated heat with some fans was Pete Dunne getting ready to deliver Triple H's Pedigree on Hashi. Dunne dominated the match to start with, attempting numerous times to bite Hashi's fingers. Hashi managed to kick out of The Bitter End from Dunne. Hashi got the win with Karma (Pump-handle half nelson driver). Dunne exited rather quickly, stopping for a moment on the ramp to say thank you to the crowd. This prompted us to pose the question 'Will we see Pete Dunne at the York Hall again?'.

Marty Scurll Vs Zach Sabre Jr

I don't know what to say or where to start with this one. I went into this event thinking this match would be brilliant but it exceeded my expectations. I thought we would get a solid twenty five minute match. Instead we were treated to a forty plus minute classic. The story of this match was former best friends, now bitter enemies. What I loved was that it told a great story. It started off slow and methodical. Sabre and Scurll trading submissions but when Scurll realised it wasn't getting him anywhere he resorted to his villainous tactics. The fans were invested in this match from the start and stayed with it until the end. I had so much respect for both of the performers that I didn't know who to chant for. My chants for Zach Sabre Jr were directly followed by chants for Marty Scurll. We were witnessing a special moment. This is a bold statement but it is the best match I have ever seen live. There were numerous near falls, Bobby and I kept turning to each other in joyous disbelief, asking 'When will this end?' There were chops galore from Scurll, Sabre's chest was battered red but don't worry he was returning the favour with stiff forearms to Scurll. The ending eventually came when Sabre attempted a third running uppercut, Scurll jumped and caught Sabre in the 'Chicken Wing'. Sabre then rolled through the 'Chicken Wing', locked the legs of Scurll down and bridged a pin for the three count. 

Trent Seven Vs Trevor Lee

I was excited to see Trent Seven, I hadn't seen him before the WWE UK Tournament. I love the whole Moustache Mountain gimmick. I was disappointed that my view was obstructed for Trent's slow roll into the ring. I haven't kept up with TNA in recent years, I lost interest quite some time ago and so I was surprised to hear that Trevor Lee is the current X Division Champion. This match started with a dance off which led to a Trevor Lee ambush on Seven. The audience were exhausted from the Scurll Vs Zabre match and I think this contest suffered because of it. I did laugh when Lee kept shouting 'I'm a top TNA star!' It was a decent match, Seven got the win with a Piledriver.

Martin Stone Vs Jay White

Martin Stone had a nasty scar of the back of his head due to the kick from Devlin in the WWE UK Tournament. Stone always delivers a hard hitting contest. I think he is great at making his opponents shine. Jay White picked up a victory using a submission hold, the Boston Crab. 

Katsuyoui Shibata Vs Matt Riddle

The atmosphere in the York Hall was fantastic for this contest. It was as if the audience had been recharging their batteries since Scurll Vs Sabre. Former UFC fighter Matt Riddle entered first. He was greeted with 'Bro' chants including a rendition of 'Gold' by Spandau Ballet that now featured the lines "Bro, always believe in your soul..." and "...Always believe in, because you are Bro!". Shibata entered next as champion. He was greeted with thunderous applause and a standing ovation. This was a strong style battle.                                                                          

 

Riddle was throwing forearms and slaps Shibatas way. My highlight was when Shibata was walking from corner to corner, taking slaps to the chest from Riddle and not showing any signs of weakness. The moment Shibata stepped out of the final corner and went head to head with Riddle gave me goosebumps. The crowd were stamping their feet, clapping and cheering which really added to the match. Riddle delivered a 'Penalty Kick' to Shibata followed by the 'Go To Sleep' and a 'Fisherman Buster'. This wasn't enough to win the title. Shibata won the match by hitting a 'Sleeper Suplex', then scoring with his own 'Penalty Kick' and locking in the 'Rear Naked Choke'. 

 

 

This event was phenomenal. The next show from York Hall is 'Epic Encounter' on the 13th April. 'The Young Bucks' have been announced as well as a match between Zack Sabre Jr and Kushida. I'm making a note in my diary as we speak.

If you've been to an RPW event before, let me know your favourite match.

 

'Star Wars Identities' - The Exhibition

Christmas brought many amazing gifts this year including tickets to the 'Star Wars Identities' exhibition. I was thrilled for two reasons, the first being that I had heard about this exhibition from people at work and secondly, I love Star Wars! 

Two tickets, one for me and one for my girlfriend Helena. Now before I go any further, I must get something out of the way early. Helena has yet to see a Star Wars movie but before all hell breaks loose, by the end of this exhibit she did seem to be one step closer to the force. More so than I was, but I'll get to that later. 

 

Before reading on I will say that this blog will document what happens inside the 'Star Wars Identities' Exhibition, so if you want to experience it like I did with no pre-conceptions, then make sure you come back to the blog after visiting. The exhibit is currently housed at the 02 in London. I'd never been before and so I was amazed by the sheer scale of it. I was also very happy to finally see the venue that James Bond (Pierce Brosnan Stunt Double) dropped onto in the pre title sequence of 'The World is Not Enough'.

At the start of the exhibit we were given ear pieces and wristbands. The wristbands would be used to create our very own personas in the Star Wars universe. The earpieces allow you to listen to videos and to 'making of' audio when standing in front of some of the props/costumes/models. The sound at the start of the exhibit kept dropping in and out and we couldn't explain why. Eventually we realised that we didn't have the signal pack facing the screen where the video was being played. Be sure to face the screen or designated items in order to get the best audio. The only other problem I had with my ear piece was that the battery ran out quite close to the end. I spoke to someone working at the exhibition and I very easily swapped it. The staff were very helpful and it didn't affect my time there.

I've talked about the videos you can watch, these videos are in each section of the exhibit and they look into the lives of two members of the same family. The Skywalkers, Anakin and Luke. Through the videos we take a deeper look into why Anakin turned to the dark side and why Luke remained with the Jedi. We look into their similarities and their differences. We see how their upbringing, surroundings, hobbies, friends and ambitions forge their paths.

Alongside this, we were creating our own characters. Like I said earlier, we had wristbands. In each section there is a station to develop your character. We simply tapped our wristbands and away we went. The first decision, what kind of race? I thought Human was way too predictable so I decided to be a Zabrak.

When it came to picking my name, I struggled for a couple of minutes until I just decided to move the letters around in my own name to make 'Mertyan Lebl. Helena became 'Ha Ha Hels', inspired by Jar Jar Binks. It's not often you put the word 'inspired' next to the name Jar Jar Binks. After naming your identity you choose your home planet, how you were raised, abilities you'd like to develop, how you handled a major event in your life (Such as being held captive by Jabba The Hut), occupation, characteristics and what means the most to you in life. Finally to round off your character, you have to answer the important question. Do I accept the dark side or refuse it?

Helena was strong and refused to let herself be persuaded by the dark side of the Force. However after choosing Hedonism as my characters main outlook on life, I couldn't resist. I saw many proving themselves to be weak, all thinking like me that it was way cooler to join the Emperor.

At the end of the tour we placed our wristbands on the final wall. 'Martyan Lebl' and 'Ha Ha Hels' emerged fully formed. A cool feature is that you can put in your email and they will send you the full story behind your character along with an image.

Besides the interactive element, there were over two hundred original costumes, props, models and pieces of art work to be astounded by. We were instantly greeted by Storm Troopers, Boba Fett, R2-D2, C3P0 and those terribly useless Battle Droids "Roger, Roger".

The part that really floored me was the section that had all of the miniature model ships on show. They were beautifully hand crafted and displayed complete with sound effects. I made sure I took close up photos of each one before I left. 

It was only a few days after the passing of Carrie Fisher and her presence was everywhere, in the storyboards, costumes and film footage. She is such an integral part of the Star Wars Universe and when faced with a wall decorated with her face, I made sure I took a few moments to reflect and quietly say "Thank you" before moving on. 

The exhibition is running until September 3rd 2017. It is a must see for all Star Wars fans. On the other hand if you're not a Star Wars fan then Helena will tell you, you can enjoy it too. 

If you've been to 'Star Wars Identities' then let me know who you created and the path you took.

May the force be with you. 

'Three Best Cinema Trips 2016'

One of my favourite things to do in my spare time is to pop off to the pictures to take in a movie. To me there is nothing better than seeing a film upon its initial release on a cinema projection screen with surround sound. So what I want to do with this blog is choose my best three cinema trips of 2016, in other words the three movies that I really loved watching. I must say that the three movies I've chosen are movies that I saw purely in the cinema and not at home on Blu Ray, Netflix or any other kind of format. In fact there maybe some films from 2016 that I've seen that I would rate more than the three I've chosen. However I was not surrounded by strangers and eating popcorn when I watched them so they can't make the final cut. Before telling you about my top three cinema trips I have compiled a list of movies that I am still yet to see from last year. Let me know what you thought of them and whether I should be checking them out.

Photo From BFM Magazine

Photo From BFM Magazine

Films to see from 2016:

  • Arrival
  • Moana
  • Captain America - Civil War
  • Hail, Caesar
  • Magnificent Seven
  • I, Daniel Blake
  • Star Trek Beyond
  • Sully
  • Finding Dory
  • Room

 

 

 

Now that is out of the way, here are my three best cinema trips from 2016, don't worry. They are spoiler free. 

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BRIDGET JONES'S BABY

Director - Sharon Maguire

Screenplay - Helen Fielding, Dan Mazer & Emma Thompson

Starring - Renee Zellweger, Colin Firth & Patrick Dempsey

'Bridget Jones's Diary' was released in 2001, 'Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason' was released in 2004 and in 2016 we saw 'Bridget Jones's Baby'. For many, twelve years had passed since the second instalment. But for me, a newbie to the films, it had actually only been a few months. This really helped when it came to watching BJB because the backstory was still fresh in my mind. 'Bridget Jones Diary' Director is back in the chair and Sharon Maguire does a fantastic job of bringing the characters back to the big screen. Colin Firth returns as Mark Darcy & of course Renee Zellweger is Bridget once again. Zellweger takes to the role as if no time had passed at all & Colin Firth is at his awkward/charming best. I get the sense in this movie that everyone is just revelling in playing their respective roles. One stand out performance is national treasure Emma Thompson as Dr Rawlings. I've only just learned from researching for this blog post that she also had a hand in rewriting parts of the script. Hugh Grant apparently turned down the film because he wasn't thrilled with the initial script. Thompson must have worked some of that Nanny McPhee magic because this script had me belly laughing from start to finish. I knew I would enjoy the film but I was surprised by just exactly how much I did. It was a lovely film to watch and there was a great atmosphere in the cinema. There were so many memorable scenes, my particular favourite involved someone having to be carried rather a long way. So I previously stated that Grant turned down the project, so did the film suffer from no Hugh? Not at all, to be honest I didn't really miss him. I've always been more interested in the relationship between Bridget and Mark. Patrick Dempsey was instead the new love rival. He played the part well and had some great sparring dialogue with Mr Firth. It was a feel good film that I look forward to watching again with Helena. 

 

FANTASTIC BEASTS & WHERE TO FIND THEM

Director - David Yates

Screenplay - JK Rowling

Starring - Eddie Redmayne, Katherine Waterston, Dan Fogler & Alison Sudol

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A few years ago if you'd mentioned Harry Potter I would have sighed and moved the conversation on to something else. For some reason I would dismiss the character, books and films. I think it was because it was so popular that I didn't want to just jump on a band waggon. Saying that, I had still seen Philosophers Stone, Chamber of Secrets and Deathly Hallows Part 2 (A very strange order, yes). However since 2015 my interest and love for the series has grown more and more. The main reason is because of my girlfriend, Helena. Her profound love and passion for all things Potter has been passed onto me. We've watched the movies multiple times, visited Leavesden Warner Bros Studios and been to Harry Potter World at Universal Studios. So when 'Fantastic Beasts' came out, there was no doubt we would be going to see it. It was a joy to watch, it really was. We were transported into that magical world that we have come to love, only this time there was a difference. The magical world has been brought into New York in the 1920's. Eddie Redmayne is at his best playing the charming and ever so slightly nervous Englishman. You can't help but fall in love with his character, he's wide eyed and excited throughout as he details his 'Fantastic Beasts'. His performance to me had something of a Doctorish quality to it, he reminded me a little of Matt Smith in the sense that there is a slight alien quality to him. I couldn't help but also think of his role in 'The Theory of Everything' as Stephen Hawking. This is not a criticism. I think he's taken certain traits from that role and used them to create Newt Scamanda. It is wonderful to see a wizard in full flow, confident in all of his abilities. With Harry we had a young wizard learning the ropes with the supporting characters helping him grow, but with Newt he is the authority on his type of magic. Its a nice twist in this new film series.  J.K Rowling is of course the brain behind 'Fantastic Beast' providing the script. It is a pressurised role I'm sure because of what has come before but Rowling continues to deliver quality material with this movie. The world she created all those years ago  continues to grow and this fan is very thankful. I'm pleased that JK is still at the helm because like many others, once successful she could have quite easily have sold on the franchise to another company. She has chosen instead to hold the reigns so that her stories can be told the way they should be. Apparently there are several more 'Fantastic Beasts' lined up, let's hope the magic of JK Rowling doesn't run out anytime soon. 

 

 

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ROGUE ONE: A STAR WARS STORY

Director - Gareth Edwards

Screenplay Chris Weitz & Tony Gilroy

Starring - Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, Mads Mikkelsen & Forest Whitaker

This film tops my list of cinema trips but it also tops my list of favourite movie from 2016. I went along with my Dad which definitely added something special to the outing. I'm living in London these days and my dad is up in Newcastle so it's always lovely to spend time together. I remember purchasing the dvd box set of the original trilogy when I was younger and watching them through with him in his flat in Gosforth. Only fitting that we saw the film that is supposed to come before that trilogy together. This film has had so much hype and I for one didn't know if it could live up to it. I was really impressed with 'The Force Awakens' in 2015 & I had heard many positive things from other people so I was very intrigued. Some people even went as far as saying that they thought it was their favourite Star Wars film. After half an hour of ads and trailers, the film started. There were no scrolling text, but I didn't expect there to be as it is separate from the Episode films (Even though it still factors in it, this is so confusing to describe to someone. Trust me, I've tried.) The opening section of the movie I wasn't too keen on with numerous jumps between planets, but once that settled down and the characters/plot were developed I was entranced by the movie. I actually think I regressed to being a little kid again, as if I was delving into the Star Wars Universe for the first time. It was all so exciting. The film itself looks stunning and I think the CGI is handled well. I've recently been watching the series again from Episode One and I'm thrown a little by the amount of CGI in the prequel Episodes but here it didn't take me out of the story. I know there has been a lot of discussion about one certain effect in the movie, whether it was right or wrong. In my opinion I thought is was a positive move as it helped the film blend into the Star Wars timeline. This film is full of references that die hard fans will notice and with each viewing I think you'll find something new. I personally can't wait to purchase the Blu-Ray so I can watch in-between 'Revenge of The Sith' & 'A New Hope'. 

Well now it is 2017! Which means more movie releases & more cinema trips. 

What release are you looking forward to?