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BRIT awards; and the nominees are…lacking

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The full list of nominations for this year’s Brit Awards have been announced this week. The always eventful, albeit recently rather predictable ceremony (Laura Marling, aside) will be held at London’s O2 Arena on February 21st, 2012 and will be broadcast live on ITV1. I feel that the event organisers have made one rather startling omission – that of Will Young in the British Male Solo Artist category. For me, Young is the best British male solo artist around and his latest album ‘Echoes’ was typically brilliant, both vocally and creatively. For shame that he has been overlooked in such a way! I greatly doubt that it will have any kind of detrimental impact on Young’s future career or popularity with the British public, but recognition should be paid all the same.


The nominees are as follows:

British Male Solo Artist

Ed Sheeran / James Blake  / James Morrison  / Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds / Professor Green

My tip: Ed Sheeran. Sheeran has been enjoying a soaring popularity of late and is very much the ‘in-thing.’ He’s also rather good and deserves to win against the other nominees.

British Female Solo Artist

Adele / Florence + the Machine / Jessie J / Kate Bush / Laura Marling

My tip: Adele. I would like Laura Marling to make it two in as many years, but I don’t think Adele’s star power and recent worldwide record of achievement will be overlooked this year.

British Breakthrough Act

Anna Calvi / Ed Sheeran / Emeli Sandé / Jessie J / The Vaccines

My tip: Jessie J. I enjoy a bit of Jessie J, but am not particularly wowed by this category in all honesty. Apart from Calvi, I find the nominations to be too commercial…not sure what I was expecting here.

British Group

Arctic Monkeys / Chase & Status / Coldplay / Elbow / Kasabian

My tip: Coldplay. I’d have liked to see Snow Patrol here and Noah and the Whale, but I would concede that Coldplay are probably the biggest and most consistently high-achieving band to come out of the UK in recent years.

British Single

Adele: ‘Someone Like You’

Ed Sheeran: ‘The A Team’

Example: ‘Changed The Way You Kiss Me’

Jessie J feat B.o.B: ‘Price Tag’

JLS feat Dev: ‘She Makes Me Wanna’

Military Wives and Gareth Malone: ‘Wherever You Are’

Olly Murs feat Rizzle Kicks: ‘Heart Skips A Beat’

One Direction: ‘What Makes You Beautiful’

Pixie Lott: ‘All About Tonight’

The Wanted: ‘Glad You Came’

My tip: Jessie  J. ‘Price Tag’ would be my favourite of the above tracks, though I am partial to a bit of JLS and I’m not afraid to show it.

Mastercard British Album Of The Year

Adele: 21 / Coldplay: Mylo Xyloto / Ed Sheeran: + / Florence + the Machine: / Ceremonials / PJ Harvey: Let England Shake

My tip: Ed Sheeran. A tough category as record sales would stand some nominees head and shoulders above the rest, but for achievement; both musically and commercially, I would have to say Sheeran.

International Male Solo Artist

Aloe Blacc / Bon Iver / Bruno Mars / David Guetta / Ryan Adams

My tip: Bruno Mars. I like Mars’ style and work, but Bon Iver would be my personal favourite of the bunch. I’d be surprised if he were to be acknowledged in this setting though.

International Female Solo Artist

Beyoncé / Bjork / Feist / Lady Gaga / Rihanna

My tip: Firstly, Britney Spears, (‘Femme Fatale’)? I would say that Beyonce might walk away with this one, in light of her Glastonbury spectacular.

International Group

Fleet Foxes / Foo Fighters /  Jay Z and Kanye West / Lady Antebellum / Maroon 5

My tip: Jay Z and Kanye West. A fan of neither, but I think their combined pulling power will prove victorious.

International Breakthrough Act

Aloe Blacc / Bon Iver / Foster The People / Lana Del Rey / Nicki Minaj

My tip: Lana Del Rey. The Brits have always hopped in to the sidecar of whatever is current and buckled up for the ride, so Lana Del Rey should walk away quite easily with this one. Glad to see recognition for Foster The People though.


British Producer: Paul Epworth /  Flood /  Ethan Johns

Critics’ Choice Emeli Sandé

Outstanding Contribution To Music Award: Blur

Fear not Will, you remain and forever shall be, the rightful Red Rum of the British male vocalist steeplechase. /


shelleyhanveywriter 🙂


Written by shelleyhanveywriter

January 13, 2012 at 1:44 pm

UK Festival Awards 2011 @festival_awards ; out with the old and in with the new?

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The 2011 UK Festival Awards were announced last night, in a suitably snazzy ceremony at London’s Roundhouse. There were a few surprises amongst the winners; perhaps a glimpse of the shift that’s set to come this year from folk choosing their festival allegiances more carefully, in light of the current economic climate. For me, size and status are irrelevant; if you have what I want, I’m there.

Following acclaimed performances at Glastonbury, Reading, Bestival and Jersey Live, Ed Sheeran was named ‘Best Breakthrough Artist’ (in association with Brothers Cider), beating off competition from Bruno Mars, Jessie J and The Vaccines.


‘Headline Performance of the Year’ (in association with Jagermeister) was awarded to Paolo Nutini at Latitude Festival, Nutini’s fellow nominees included Metallica, Magnetic Man and Chase & Status. Chase & Status didn’t go home empty- handed however, as they walked away with the award for ‘Anthem of the Summer’ for ‘Blind Faith.’

Rob Da Bank’s ever-popular Bestival was honoured in a new category for 2011: ‘Fan’s Favourite Festival’. This year, the festival welcomed some of the biggest names in music, consequently drawing the biggest crowds, and featured artists such as Bjork, The Cure, PJ Harvey, Brian Wilson and Public Enemy.

The awards for ‘Best Major’ / ‘Medium’ / ‘Small’ Festival, ‘Best Metropolitan’ Festival, ‘Best New’ Festival and ‘Best Family’ Festival were decided upon by a judging panel of journalists and reviewers. The winners included: ‘Best Major Festival’ (in association with The Ticket Factory) went to the godfather of festivals, Glastonbury, whose headline performances from Beyonce, U2 and Coldplay dominated our TV screens over the summer. ‘Best Medium-sized Festival’ was awarded to Secret Garden Party, which this year featured acts including Marcus Foster, Yasmin, Leftfield and Ghostpoet. End of The Road was awarded with ‘Best Small Festival’ (in association with Doodson); the North Dorset event featured live sets from Laura Marling, Joanna Newsom and Mogwai this year. This is definitely one which I would like to experience some time soon.


‘Best Metropolitan Festival’ was awarded to Sheffield’s Tramlines, which beat off competition from The Great Escape, Dot to Dot and Gaymer’s Camden Crawl.

‘Best New Festival’ (in association with Access All Areas) went to Wilderness, a new ‘celebration of the arts and outdoors’ in Oxfordshire, which The Observer described as a ‘bohemian haven’; Oxford and bohemian – sounds right up my street!  ‘Best Family Festival’ (in association with Showsec) was awarded to Beautiful Days.

‘Best Dance Event’ (in association with Peppermint Bars) perhaps predictably, went to Creamfields, with this year’s event featuring fan favourites Chemical Brothers, Katy B and Kissy Sell Out. I’m not sure that any other festival could beat Creamfields in this genre, there certainly does not appear to be any strong contenders to its crown at the moment. Croatia’s Outlook was honoured with ‘Best Overseas Festival’.

Finally, ‘Line-Up of the Year’ in association with XL Video was awarded to Sonisphere, for a staggering bill in 2011, which saw the Big Four – Metallica, Slayer, Anthrax and Megadeth unite for what was widely described as, ‘heavy metal heaven’.

Congratulations to all the 2011 UK Festival Awards winners and let’s hope that the 2012 season exceeds those highs and lessens the lows. /

shelleyhanveywriter 🙂

2011 UK Music Festivals; what constitutes a headline-worthy artist?

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I think we’ve pretty much seen the majority of what the UK Music Festival scene has in store for us this year, but I’ve had cause to wonder; what constitutes a headline-worthy artist? Are record sales the main criterion; perhaps international or tabloid appeal, or could it be something else?

It has always been my opinion that those festivals which consistently perform well with ticket sales, are those which have a clear brand identity and generally, a niche market; Leeds and Reading Festivals, Cambridge Folk Festival, Glastonbury and T In The Park being prime examples. I suppose it isn’t  rocket science really – if you cater to a specific section of the gig-going public, provide the artists and bands that  they want to see, at a price they can afford, how can you go wrong? But so many appear to do just that. Looking at some of the festival line-ups for 2011, I’ve felt largely underwhelmed and uninspired, with only a select few pricking my curiosity to find out more. Admittedly, music tastes are subjective and entirely personal to the ticket-holder, but when the ‘big five’ (V Festival, Glastonbury, Leeds Festival, Reading Festival and T In The Park) music festivals in the UK are charging relatively similar weekend prices, how can a couple of them defend their line-ups against their peers?

Of course, a music festival is about much more than just the music; the location has to be just right, as well as: accessibility, on-site facilities, entertainment, catering, toilets, general crowd atmosphere and the list goes on. Can a perfect ten in all of these criteria however, really make up for a poor line-up? Is a great festival weekend about who you’re with, not where you are; would you trade six good medium-stage acts for one great main stage act?

The UK Festival Awards 2010 announced the following winners late last year:

Best Small Festival in association with Doodson Entertainment – Kendal Calling

Best Medium Festival in association with Smirnoff Flavours – Green Man Festival

Best Major Festival in association with Tuborg – Bestival (see photo above)

Line-Up of the Year in association with XL Video – Rockness

Bestival is a boutique music festival, which takes place at Robin Hill on the Isle of Wight. The four-day spectacular which promises to inspire ‘peace, love and dancing’, is curated by BBC Radio 1 DJ, Rob Da Bank. This year, the festival takes place on the 8th – 11th September 2011 and is set across 15 stages, offering the likes of The Cure, Pendulum, Primal Scream, Kelis, Robyn, PJ Harvey, Noah and the Whale, The Unthanks and Groove Armada. It would be fair to say that the line-up is a mix of folk fusion and boutique chic and the festival site promises ‘an original boutique camping experience, cocktail bars, fancy dress and a hidden disco.’ I think the fact that the festival has always promoted itself as being particularly family friendly hasn’t hurt; children enjoy music too, it isn’t all about the beer tokens people! To find out more about Bestival, please visit the link below.

Green Man Festival takes place on the 19th-21st August 2011 (the same weekend as V Festival, but tailored to an entirely different audience) in the Brecon Beacons. The festival is aimed specifically at the folk and electronic indie- loving public and again, is very welcoming to families with children of all ages; indeed, under 12s get in free. Highlights on the line-up this year include: Fleet Foxes, The Low Anthem, Bellowhead, Explosions In The Sky, The Burns Unit and Villagers. I think that I would enjoy this particular festival; I love folk and electronic music and I love a beautiful scenic environment in which to camp and lounge. To find out more about Green Man Festival, please visit the link below.

Kendal Calling takes place on the 29th-31st July 2011 in Lowther Deer Park in the Lake District. This is an independent festival, combining contemporary music and art with rural entertainment. I think it would be a fair assumption to say that this festival largely caters to a somewhat younger demographic than the former two; particularly with regards to the line-up, which this year includes: The Cribs, Blondie, Chase and Status, Echo and the Bunnymen, Levellers and Young Knives.  The festival also offers dance, comedy and new music stages. For more information on Kendal Calling…you know what to do.

Out of the ‘big five’ headlining acts this year, my favourite would have to be Glastonbury (22nd-26th June 2011): Coldplay, U2 and Beyonce. The brilliance of these choices lies in the fact that there will probably be something for everyone here. The acts are diverse enough to attract wider audiences, yet remain true to what a great headliner should be – an act that commands your attention, whether that be by dividing the audience right down the middle or uniting everyone with one memorable anthem that will go on to sum up the entire weekend.

Taking in to account the line-up in its entirety however, I would have to opt for Latitude Festival as my favourite(14th-17th July 2011). The mix of folk, electronica, comedy, poetry and the spoken word could have been tailored specifically with me in mind. I would pay to see the majority of the acts on the billing, including: The National, Bombay Bicycle Club, Caribou, The Duke and the King, Foals, Hurts, KT Tunstall and Rumer , as well as the fantastic stand-ups on offer including Alan Carr and Omad Djalili . Plus it also takes place on my birthday weekend!

Whichever UK festival you choose to visit this year, I wish you good weather and great memories 🙂 / / / / / / / / /

Review of Russell Kane’s ‘Smokescreens and Castles’ at Parr Hall, Warrington

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Fresh from positively basting his fellow ‘Let’s Dance’ buddies with his blistering Beyonce groove; Russell Kane took a well-earned breather from his charitable capers this week, to perform his retrospective comedy show ‘Smokescreens and Castles’ at Parr Hall, Warrington.

The high value, high camp spectacle had been sold out for a number of weeks, such is the draw of the performer after notable weekly appearances on hit shows including, ‘Comedy Rocks with Jason Manford‘ (ITV) and ‘I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here Now (ITV2) .‘ As the number of excitable young females rose upon spotting a typically casually dressed Kane loitering in the foyer, it was clear that this  30-year old Westcliff-on-Sea native’s star was also heading in the same direction.

Support came in the form of a fellow Avalon Entertainment signing, Nat Luurtsema. I would describe Luurtsema as possessing all the traits of one of my favourite dessert goods; that adjective being ‘ambrosial’ whilst the dessert good hails from a surely un-coincidentially similar source, that being Devon, or Ambrosia Devon Creamed Rice to be precise. Ambrosial is a synonym for cute or loveable and those were the exact words that sprung to my mind as Luurtsema took to the stage and began her short introductory set. Luurtsema wished to clarify that onlookers had not been mistaken and that her face was, in fact, “the size of a thumb” and that her hair had indeed been cut for the recession; “(the long imposing fringe) saves me a third on make up.” I knew after these two self-deprecating admissions that Luurtsema and I were going to get on splendidly. Her particular style of comedy followed largely in the same vein; poking fun at her love life or lack thereof, her home town and her interesting choice of social activities. The funniest moments for me came courtesy of a particular memory of visiting Huddersfield for the weekend and her decision to take part in a televised protest against Miss World in her less than sheltered neighbourhood in London. Luurtsema described Huddersfield as possessing the only two vital establishments that any town requires: a pet shop and an off-licence, recounting the number of times locals had surely awoken with a major hangover and an iguana stuffed in their coat pocket. Describing the time that she got roped in to taking part in a demonstration against Miss World, Luurtsema explained that her Mum had got so excited after spotting her at several televised crime scenes, that she openly encouraged her daughter to “hang around” unsavoury places in her neighbourhood, “in case anything kicks off and I’ll set the Sky plus!” It was in just such comical circumstances that she had ended up on television sporting an anti Miss World sash with ‘Miss-ogyny‘ written on one side and ‘Miss-carriage of justice‘ on the other; the fly in the ointment being that the sash had misplaced itself and whilst she continued to wave furiously at the camera, it simply read ‘Miss-carriage‘ across the screens of millions. I enjoyed Luurtsema’s recollections but I felt a little uncomfortable at times, due to the seemingly never-ending hushed silences which greeted a couple of her lines. The audience was a good mix of late teens to mid-late forties, but the male population were in the majority and I felt that Luurtsema’s style of more cosy left-wing and female musings had perhaps not registered with the men amongst us.

The same could certainly not be said of the headliner however and for this reason, with hindsight, I think that the pairing of the two acts was quite inspired and satisfying; both sexes getting a few jokes made at their biological expense whilst also getting the opportunity to rib their partner/friend/neighbour. Kane took to the stage to begin his unrestrainable 90-minute set to great applause; the audience clearly animated in their fevered anticipation of what was to come. The show had been billed as focusing on the council house in Brimsdown, Enfield that Kane grew up in. Kane says that his Dad bought the house and decided to extend it; leading to much anger and resentment from his neighbours and a subsequent local dubbing of the house as ‘the castle.’ Kane then uses the castle as a metaphor for his family and class relationships.

Kane won the 2010 Fosters Edinburgh Comedy Award for this very show, beating contemporaries such as Sarah Millican and Greg Davies. If energy and pace had been the sole judging criteria, then this show would still have walked away with the annual prize; before considering the quantity and diversity of material and audience participation. Kane announced pretty early on in the set that he liked to write around a theme (‘the castle‘) but would often dip into other memories and at times completely un-related aside points. This helped to make the show flow quite comfortably, the audience never getting the sense that a joke had been laboured or that Kane’s material was dwindling. Clearly popular with the female contingent, Kane announced that he was in fact recently single, which I was a little perturbed to hear; mostly due to concern for the welfare of their shared cats, Keith and Wayne. Admittedly, I am a self-confessed amateur psychologist and I love nothing more than to analyse the inner workings of the human heart, so I did get the impression that Kane’s repeated referral to the break-up signified some unresolved issues and perhaps unfinished business? As I say, I don’t think that Freud has anything to turn in his grave about and I don’t think that my fellow XX chromosomes in the audience shared this perturbation, however. Bunch of scamps.

Kane talked a great deal about his upbringing in Enfield, his Dad and how that Essex upbringing might translate in another part of the UK, particularly Wales and show venue Warrington. It would appear that Kane’s idea of a northern accent never veers from the confines of Bolton, which led to some comic moments of audience participation with one lady embarrassingly regretting leaving her mobile phone switched on mid-show…not for the faint hearted! Kane’s delivery is always high camp and high energy, ensuring that the audience works hard to keep up with the content and direction; it is possible at times to miss the odd punchline in this regard however, as Kane’s speech is so fluid and excitable that the end line can sometimes be drowned out by the laughter of the audience and before you know it, he’s moved on to a completely different subject. Some call it ADHD, for Kane fans this is merely par for the course.

I particularly enjoyed Kane’s musings on social classes, specifically his pondering as to whether posh people pelt stand-ups with quale eggs and sunblushed tomatoes, as opposed to the common varieties. I also liked the references to people from Essex stealing all the vowels in the English vocabulary, “hi’yaaaaaaaaaa, you al’riiiiiiiiiiiiiight?” and his hatred for people who can sleep anywhere, “ooh! are we there already? I must have dozed off…you dozed off in Essex Mum, we’re in Edinburgh. Have a nice f***** nap did ya?!” The funniest reference for me would have to be Kane’s memories of being taken to the Akash Indian Restaurant as a child and his subsequent hero-worship of his Dad after a particularly dicey incident with a group of unruly youths and a Chicken Shashlik…that’s a Shashlik, not a Tikka Masala mind, he was very specific about that!

Kane’s memories of his Dad are clearly poignant, leading to a welcome sentimental monologue at the close of the show, were Kane appeared to intimate that his Dad had made him promise to include memories of him in the show; leading me to believe that the great man was no longer with us. After some post-show research, it would seem that this is indeed the case and for that reason, I can most whole-heartedly say, that Kane more than kept his promise on that score. ‘Smokescreens and Castles‘ is a bittersweet  journey through Kane’s childhood, taking in colourful characters (Dad, Nan) and vivid venues (the Akash) along the way, building to an emotional and rather surprising crescendo; ‘the castle‘ might have seen many family battles over the years but Daddy Kane had clearly been its keep and master.

Written by shelleyhanveywriter

February 28, 2011 at 4:25 pm

Russell Kane, Smoke Screens and Castles at Parr Hall, Warrington 25.02.2011

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Multi-talented stand-up and scribe, Russell Kane, brings his brand new comedy show ‘Smoke Screens and Castles‘ to the North West this week; playing at the recently renovated and rather resplendent Parr Hall, Warrington on Friday, 25th February 2011.

You may be familiar with Kane’s musings on society, culture and the veritable merits of life in Westcliff-on-Sea, due to his recent weekly slot on’ Comedy Rocks with Jason Manford.‘ What you might not know however, nor indeed did I, is that Kane is in fact the epitome of a jack-of-all-trades in the field of creative arts. After gaining a First in English at university, Kane happened upon the opportunity to try his hand as a stand-up comedian; six short years later and Kane can also add the titles of Edinburgh Comedy Award winner, much in-demand and ever popular radio and TV personality and highly lauded theatrical comedy writer (Comedy Central‘s ‘Fakespeare‘) to his name.

Smoke Screens and Castles‘ focuses on the council house in Brimsdown, Enfield that Kane grew up in. Kane says that his Dad bought the house and decided to extend it; cue much anger and resentment from his neighbours and a subsequent local dubbing of the house as ‘the castle.’ Kane’s observational and analytical retorts on modern society often touch upon such widely regarded subjective subjects as class, wealth and politics; my own thoughts on such, clearly evident from the freudian and alliterative slip there. I enjoy this satirical style of comedy; taking events and experiences that almost everyone in the audience will be able to relate to in some form and caricaturising them on a much wider, much funnier scale. After all, we can take ourselves a little seriously at times us Brits, I think you’ll agree? Speaking of which; if you didn’t catch Kane’s hilarious and at times frighteningly faithful performance of Beyonce‘s ‘Crazy In Love‘ for ‘Let’s Dance‘ at the weekend, I have included the link below. Kane won a place, alongside Katie Price at the final on Saturday 12th March 2011 and Kane is already being touted as this year’s Robert Webb:

Russell Kane will be touring the UK right up until the 7th July 2011, so I am sure that you will be able to catch him at a venue near you very soon. Please see below for dates and ticket information:

Written by shelleyhanveywriter

February 21, 2011 at 2:17 pm

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