#NewMusicFriday: ‘medicine’ by Bring Me The Horizon

The pop-rock nature of the third single from the band’s upcoming album amo has divided lifelong fans – some hoping for a return to a more deathcore sound – but medicine retains the traditional aggression of Bring Me The Horizon, whilst also exploring new ground.

“Some people are a lot like clouds, you know,” lead singer Oli Sykes utters softly in the rock group’s latest release. “‘Cause life’s so much brighter when they go.” It’s the usual harsh and metaphorical lyricism one would expect on a typical rock ballad, and it’s a tone not at all diminished by the fact that it’s a track more poppy in nature.

Although following the usual rigid structure of popular music, medicine is fun and experimental (as is the trippy music video which accompanies it), with an equally tight and creative pacing interlaced with subtle but gripping guitar melodies. Incredibly visual lyrics feel fresh, original and imaginative as their flow and sharp delivery by Sykes fluctuates throughout. Alternating seamlessly between explosive rock and chill, minimalistic pre-choruses and bridges, Bring Me The Horizon’s medicine dives into poprock with inventive, gritty bravado.

★★★★★

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A ‘Bandersnatch’ Themed Shop Has Appeared At Old Street Tube Station

The store’s appearance comes just days after the Black Mirror ‘choose your own adventure’ film Bandersnatch was released on Netflix.

The pop-up shop, named Tucker’s Newsagents and Games, was first set up on 31 December, with signage displaying the ‘white bear’ logo commonly associated with the franchise.

Tucker’s Newsagents and Games first appeared at Old Street tube station on New Year’s Eve. Photo: Liam O’Dell.

Meanwhile, the interior resembles a vintage record store, with displays referencing Bandersnatch and previous Black Mirror episodes.

The newsagent has also displayed the sign ‘be right back’ on its door – a slogan commonly used to promote the programme.

The appearance of the shop isn’t the first time that Black Mirror themed advertising has appeared at the station.

In January last year, billboard advertisements appeared across the tube stop to promote the recent series of Charlie Brooker’s hit show.

Graeme Craig, Director of Commercial Development at Transport for London, said: “Experiential advertising like this is a fun way to bring a brand to life and complements traditional advertising campaigns on our network.

“It generates vital income to reinvest into modernising the transport network for our customers and hopefully adds some excitement to people’s journeys as they travel through Old Street Tube station.”

The installation will run at the station until 13 January 2019.

Updated: 3 January 2019 – 5:53pm

‘War Horse’ review – One of the National Theatre’s greatest productions in recent years

Michael Morpurgo’s classic novel gets a powerful retelling with masterful puppetry and sensational performances in the National Theatre’s hit production – ★★★★★

When it comes to stage adaptations of some of the biggest novels in modern literature, the National Theatre has made a name for itself. The smash hit The Curious Incident of the Dog of the Night-Time has returned to the West End, and the equally successful War Horse returns to the Southbank to mark the centenary of the end of the First World War.

Man riding a wooden puppet horse.
Albert Narracott (Thomas Dennis) is the farm boy looking after affectionate horse Joey in this hit production. Photo: Brinkhoff & Mögenburg.

Morpurgo’s tale about a horse named Joey and its experience of war is incredibly illustrated through Rae Smith’s drawings and the Handspring Puppet Company’s stunning designs. Their masterful puppetry, together with sensational acting and an original score, makes for a truly immersive theatrical experience.

Musician Adrian Sutton, who also provided the imaginative soundtrack to The Curious Incident, joins forces with songwriter John Tams to create the emotive music and songs for this production, with verses perfectly delivered on stage by Song Man Bob Fox.

Fox joins a stellar all-round cast in the production, but it is Thomas Dennis and Peter Becker’s performances as Albert and Friedrich respectively which are outstanding. Dennis’ portrayal as the chirpy country boy makes his relationship with Joey all the more emotional, while Becker’s role as the German soldier offers equal amounts of charm in a play which also has its shocking and moving moments.

After attracting audiences for years, War Horse‘s story gains a haunting new meaning in 2018, 100 years after Armstice Day.

War Horse is now playing at the Lyttleton Theatre until 5 January 2019.

#NewMusicFriday: ‘You Remind Me’ by Gryffin (feat. Stanaj)

After a string of hits with female vocalists, American DJ Gryffin teams up with up-and-coming male singer Stanaj to complete the tracklist for Part I of his debut album, Gravity.

For the most part, the first half of the record are the greatest hits. Previous album singles Tie Me Down, Remember and Bye Bye make an appearance alongside older hits Nobody Compares to You and Just For A Moment. Only one song is unheard of, and that’s Stanaj’s collaboration on the track, You Remind Me.

While other tracks follow Gryffin’s traditional production style, the final song on the record is a significant detour. Hazy synths are replaced with a guitar melody which gives the track a slight country-like Avicii feel.

Stanaj too sounds familiar on You Remind Me, with a vocal style similar to Dewain Whitmore on Martín Garrix and Justin Mylo’s Burn Out. It may have nods to previous dance hits from other artists, but as a Gryffin track, it’s a big step away from what we’ve heard before.

Such is to be expected on a release full of old songs. The pressure falls on any new tracks to offer a sense of new direction, and an artist’s wider talent. You Remind Me does not fail on those points, and is in fact a unique addition to the producer’s catalogue. The only problem is that on an album of greatest hits, it’ll likely take a bit of listening time before this latest track rises to the same levels of popularity as other Gryffin anthems.

You Remind Me is taken from Gryffin’s debut album, Gravity. Part I is available now.

‘The Convert’ review – Letitia Wright is sensational in this haunting and emotive production

The Black Panther star leads a phenomenal cast in a powerful retelling of Danai Gurira’s play on faith and identity –

An epic three-act production takes place on a small stage in the Young Vic theatre. Wright plays Jekesai, a young Zimbabwean girl who ends up working for a Catholic priest  named Chilford (Paapa Essiedu) in a bid to avoid a forced marriage. What follows is an attempt by Chilford to convert Jekesai – now named ‘Ester’ – to the Roman Catholic faith, in a shocking and raw exploration of heritage and culture.

Wright stars as Jekesai, later renamed as ‘Ester’ by Chilford during his attempts to convert her to Catholicism. Photo: © Marc Brenner.

As two cultures collide, Gurira’s script tackles various identities, issues and beliefs with razor-sharp scrutiny. Powerful performers are given equally bold story arcs to play with. Essiedu is striking as the priest trying desperately to follow his faith, Humans’ Ivanno Jeremiah is chilling and sinister as the racist Chancellor, and Luyanda Unati Lewis-Nyawo radiates confidence as the Chancellor’s wife, Prudence.

Pamela Nomvete, Jude Akuwudike and Rudolphe Mdlongwa complete the incredible cast – as Jesekai’s aunt Mai Tamba, Uncle and cousin Tamba respectively.

The play pans out effortlessly across three acts – with several twists and turns inside a fast-paced narrative arc – but it’s in the third and final act where Ola Ince’s masterful and erudite direction comes to light. Here, the choreography brilliantly accentuates the script, establishing imaginative visual metaphors which tap into the underlying theme of religion at the heart of the play. It’s made all the more engaging by a lot of the action taking place off-stage, providing the necessary fourth-wall break to immerse viewers in this tense and unsettling production.

This review is of a preview performance. The Convert is now showing at the Young Vic Theatre until 29 January 2019.

‘Macbeth’ review – ‘24’ meets Shakespeare in Polly Tindlay’s tense psychological thriller

Christopher Eccleston makes his Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) debut alongside Niamh Cusack in this fast-paced and unnerving drama –

The Scottish Play is the best production for Eccleston to perform in his first RSC outing. Known for playing larger than life characters before – most notably The Doctor in Doctor Who and Maurice in The A Word – the actor now takes on the role of the ill-fated king in this new version of Shakespeare’s classic.

Photo by Richard Davenport (c) RSC

His performance is a powerful one, and one which works perfectly alongside Cusack’s bold take on Lady Macbeth. Elsewhere, the three witches are played by three girls, chanting Shakespeare’s prose in eery, childish singsong. Throw in an overbearing countdown timer and Michael Hodgson’s performance as the creepy janitor (Porter) – who keeps a running tally of all the bloody deaths – and you have a production which masters both suspense and fast-paced action.

Macbeth is now playing at the Barbican Centre until 18 January 2019.

#NewMusicFriday: ‘Grip’ by Seeb x Bastille

Calming and immersive, this Seeb and Bastille collab is the latest dance hit to add to the band’s impressive catalogue of high-profile collaborations.

It’s not often that Dan Smith and the rest of Bastille take it down a notch. Known both on-stage and in the recording booth for their loud, boisterous anthems, the group have very rarely strayed from that specific sound.

With Grip, it’s clear that Smith and co. wanted someone wanted to listen to the previously live-only track with fresh eyes – or rather, ears. On this occasion, they turned to hit Swedish remixers Seeb, who, as Smith says himself, transformed the song into “something new and completely different” which still has the “euphoric highs and crashing lows of night-chasing” of the original.

Striking that balance is what makes the electronic duo such masterful producers, fluttering effortlessly between catchy minimalism and elaborate creativity. Here, Smith takes the former with his usual soft vocals, whilst Seeb pursue the latter with a stripped-back main melody. It’s your usual Bastille bravado, but not in the way that you expect – and that’s what makes Grip so… well, gripping.

Grip is taken from Other People’s Heartache (Pt. 4), available to stream and download now.