Girl from the North Country, Old Vic Theatre, London

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Girl from the North Country contains three or four intertwining stories. These are slight, almost sketches really, but are beautifully told so that we care about the people we see on stage. It contains about twenty songs from Dylan’s back catalogue. These are used, in  an abstract way, to accentuate the drama rather than to move the narrative forward. It would be misleading to call this a musical, it is more a play with musical accompaniment.

The prose and the songs complement each other very well. Given the quality of the cast, the strength of the acting is no surprise. The singing, orchestration and choreography are the revelation. There are some amazing voices in the ensemble. Shirley Henderson and Jack Shalloo, in particular, shock when they sing, but every song is delivered well. The impact of a downtrodden, beaten character suddenly opening their vocal cords is not to be underestimated. Even the songs that I already knew, appeared to be given new life in the context of the play.

The reception of the audience was good, it is not too often that the whole audience stands at the end. I enjoyed this show, Conor McPherson and Bob Dylan are a combination that go together very well.

Rising Stars at 229 The Venue, London

Saint Agnes
Rising Stars is a showcase for up and coming music artists. The events are organised by Time Out and take place in famous venues around London.
On May 17th at 229 The Venue, Great Portland Street, the bands I saw were: Emily Capell, David Stewart, Saint Agnes and Jackaman.
Emily Capell is a singer/songwriter with a good voice, witty songs and a good stage presence. Her songs are poppy and catchy and have a nice sing-along feel to them.
David Stewart has a really strong voice, writes clever (sometimes harsh) lyrics and has great delivery. He exudes confidence and appears very relaxed on stage.
Saint Agnes are a prog rock, riff heavy band. Their songs were fantastic, great vocals, good harmonies. Their guitar riffs were excellent. They were visually interesting and really got the crowd moving. They got the best reaction of the night and I will definitely go to see them again.
Jackaman are an Indie rock outfit fronted by Lynne Jackaman who used to front St. Jude. They are on the rockier side of Indie and their songs and vocals are strong. Very enjoyable.
Rising Stars nights happen around London about 6 or 7 times a year. They are not expensive to get into and from what I have seen the music is always high quality. It is a great way of getting to see new live bands and a very good value night out.
The photo is of the band Saint Agnes
Recommended.