Eminem – Greatest in the World, No Lie, He Might Be

Wha! I hadn’t even had my cuppa in bed when I read that the God of rap had only gone and dropped a surprise album. Em simply posted a picture of the album cover on social media and exclaimed not to have overthought this one – I was not ready for this!

I wanted to indulge in this 13-track (too short) pool of lyrical genius before I wrote anything, rather than jumping on the bandwagon of immediate responses. Talking about responses – this album is a response record, personally and professionally, and I have to say I understand his frustration when millennials who write for the likes of NME and other media outlets, simply claim he has lost it and should retire. One uninformed article referred to the album having a couple of ‘weird skits’ – have they never listened to an Eminem album before?

There having been many outrages aired about the lyrical choices, and I guess my question to those people is the same as the author of the ‘weird skit’ article, – have you never listened to an Eminem album before? What are you expecting from him – bubble-gum pop lyrics?

Critiques are so 2-dimensional these days. You can’t really critique an album without understanding and acknowledging the context from which it came. But hey, anyone can write an opinion, however uninformed.

‘Smash into everyone, crash into everything,
Back, and I’ve just begun, Fack 2017
Fack, fack on everyone…’ – Kamikaze

Consider Em’s background (his social upbringing, his social circles, his place in society…), then consider the context of his anger (he even mocks himself for the fact he is attacking everyone who disagrees with him – the second skit where he responds to his managers message (first skit)).

Kamikaze is incredible. It’s hard to ignore his lyrical genius. I know I say this a lot, but it’s true, and there is no point attempting to reword it – it is what it is – and he knows it, as he indicates in ‘Greatest’. His brilliance with words is no more true than in ‘Not Alike’ feat. Royce 5’9.

I won’t go on about it any longer. Listen for yourself (Spotify playlist below) and to the critics who simple respond without consideration, I leave you with these lyrics from ‘Fall’ :

‘Gotta concentrate, against the clock I race
Got no time to waste, I’m already late, I got a marathoner’s pace
Went from addict to a workaholic, word to Dr. Dre
In that first marijuana tape—guess I got a chronic case (yeah)
And I ain’t just blowin’ smoke, ‘less it’s in your momma’s face
I know this time Paul and Dre, they won’t tell me what not to say
And though me and my party days have all pretty much parted ways
You’d swear to God I’ve forgot I’m the guy that made “Not Afraid” …
I’ve had as much as I can tolerate
I’m sick and tired of waitin’, I done lost my patience
I can take all of you motherfuckers on at once
You wanted, Shady? You got it! …’

 

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Gig Photography: Reading Festival, 25 Aug 2018

A small look into the Music Festival world. I specifically attended to see Skindred, Mike Shinoda and Papa Roach. Here is a selection of photographs of those bands, including a few from Sum 41’s set.

Walking with Dinosaurs Live with Michaela Strachan

I had just turned eight years old when I climbed into the cinema seat next to my mother. There I spent most of the 2 hours 7 minutes hiding beneath my mother’s cardigan, peeking out, completely terrified and enchanted by these giant lizard creatures on the big screen, cementing an admiration for all things prehistoric. If you hadn’t guessed which film I am talking about by now, it was Jurassic Park. For months after I would carefully open my bedroom door, expecting raptors to be waiting for me at the bottom of the stairs. Talking dinosaurs took over my dreams.

Wasn’t I a proud mum when my very young son became obsessed with dinosaurs at the age of three. His dad happier than I to let him watch Jurassic Park at a young age. I was expecting him to react like I did – but he loved it! I now had an excuse to buy loads of dinosaurs – and believe me, I’m almost certain we have more dinosaurs in our house than were alive at the time! Over the past four years we have obsessively watched most accessible dinosaur documentaries, most notably the BBC’s Walking with Dinosaurs series, so you can imagine both of our excitement when we had the opportunity to see these magnificent creatures on stage.

Stupidly, my default arena is Manchester. It is where I go if I want to see a musician/band who is performing the arena scene, so I decided to do the same when Walking with Dinosaurs Arena Spectacular announced their shows. This meant I had to travel, what turned out to be, over five hours there and over four hours back, in one day, all for 1 hour 40 minutes. But it was worth it.

The show was packed full of children of all ages, my son skipping besides me with excitement. The merchandise was extortionate so we opted for a lanyard with laminated information cards for the dinosaurs in the show, which cost us £7 – this was perfect for my son who is consuming facts from dinosaur encyclopedias at the moment. Normally I would have bought the programme, but at £15, I couldn’t justify the expense. There are no words to express the excitement both my son and I felt, but the show was magnificent, exciting, informative, and engaging. It was well choreographed and considered all the members of the audience, making sure that everyone got to enjoy the sheer enormity of the creatures.  Michaela Strachan hasn’t aged a day since she hosted The Really Wild Show when I was a kid in the 90s, and was funny, smiley, and simply incredible. With not long left until the show retires, I would encourage any dinosaur fan to go and see the show. The volume of the music and sound effects were acceptable, as we had previously seen smaller dinosaur live productions where the audio was so loud it scared half of the crowd to tears. The loudest sounds come at the end with the T-Rex and the Comet impact.

 

 

The West End Needs to Call Paul Kaye

I have concluded that Paul Kaye is one of the most underrated actors of our time. Meeting the man himself at The London Film & Comic Con has thrust me back into his kingdom and I feel the need to stand tall (all 5 foot 3 inches of me) and call on the West End to discover/re-discover/write a play/music for this man to act in. His performances have always been outstanding, but when you see this amazing rendition of ‘Reviewing the Situation’ from Oliver! I am completely unable to understand why this man is not on the stage, right now. Of course, I know he has done some stage work (which I missed!) and I don’t really know if he wants to do more, but I do know that he has a theatre profile, and therefore, he should be on the frickin’ stage. I implore you to watch this video and I hope that you will love it as much as I do!

The Virgin of the London Film and Comic Con 2018

I’ve needed several days to calm down before I even attempted to write about my experience as a virgin at the London Film and Comic Con 2018, in London. I’ve been like a little girl at Disney World with an insatiable desire to continuously alert my social media followers of who I met this weekend! It’s now Wednesday night and I feel more in control of my impulses.

I have friends that often go to these kinds of events, but me – I’m an innocent. In the past I’ve hurled box-sets, posters and comics at my friends to take and get signed on my behalf, but not this time.  I needed to meet Peter Capaldi and I could hardly send my blonde friend to stand in my place for this one. Although I am a Dr Who fan, my love for Capaldi is not Whovian related. I’m much more inspired by Malcolm Tucker.

I got up at 6.30am – this is a time that is illegal in my house. I do not know of this 6.30am. #1 example of my dedication to Capaldi. I traveled the unknown Underground of London and arrived at Olympia short of 8.30am – a much more respectable time to rise from the ashes. It’s still too early to socialise as far as I’m concerned, but here I was sitting between a Canadian woman and a French woman, making small talk, and coincidentally all there specifically for Capaldi.

Olympia is frickin’ huge, and was filling up with nerds and more nerds, and of all ages and genders. Some dressed up as characters, some clearly characters themselves, and others wearing everyday attire. I felt a little out of my depth. I loath crowds and suffer from social anxiety, so this is #2 example of my dedication towards Capaldi. All these people excited and buzzing, and there’s me, internally hosting a battle between excitement and nerves.

At 9am we were allowed to enter the building and like a plethora of cattle we entered the great hall. I vaguely browsed the stands whilst locating the little girls’ room – something any parent will understand, with or without the child. I headed up the stars to the gallery and then through to the photo hall – quite accidentally. I decided to stay there and wait for the man himself since I had a low batch number (3) and was terrified of missing my slot. Christopher Eccleston walked past me, though I only caught the back of his head, and I made small talk with a few people who were waiting for Capaldi’s shoot. In the mass of people I met a lovely young couple, D & A. D was batch 6 and was new to these kinds of events too, and had been drawn there for the same reason as I. I will tell you now, D & A added greatly to my experience, and would recommend going with someone to share in your excitement. We shot the shit until about 10.30am when I started to become a little bit antsy. I had the Meat Loaf talk which was scheduled for 11am. The Diamond passes were going through, and Batch One had been called. I alerted a member of the Showmaster team to my clash and she moved me to the end of Batch One. What a super star. Oh shit! I’m about to meet the man himself, I thought. Brush hair, panic!

And there he was. Hair slicked back with a demeanor exactly how I expected. I had at this point joined the hyperventilation train, not literally, but me and another woman were internally screaming like teenagers. In front of me was an older woman who had been trying to perfect her long grey hair. She passed her crutches to a member of staff before launching herself at Capaldi. She wouldn’t let him go! I mean seriously, head buried in his chest and clung on to him with both arms. He tried to be kind, but it got seriously awkward for all of us. I have to admit this grounded me somewhat. Finally she was pried away and it was my turn … and FLASH! Fangirl Face. All the weight I had lost which had been motivated by this one moment you wouldn’t have known due to how the photo was cropped, and the hours of practicing my smile – out the frickin’ window. I had fangirl-face. A little surprised by this unique look that was unfamiliar, I still skipped away happily to my Meat Loaf talk.

Meat Loaf is hilarious. Did you know he can talk to the dead? Well he says he can, and therefore I have no reason not to believe the man. This was the best £10 I’ve ever spent! He had us laughing, crying and was entertaining every minute of his talk, and those minutes he ran over too. After the incredible talk by Meat (and yes, that is the name he goes by, just ask him), I left the room, only to have to queue for Peter Capaldi’s talk (which was in the same room!). It turned into a snake (the old mobile-phone type). We Brits are good at queuing. As I was walking down the winding queue I met up with D & A again. D had an amazing picture with Capaldi – Whovian style – and no fangirl face. The amazing couple let me join them in the line, and we entered the talk area. It was incredible to watch and hear him talking for 40 minutes. It was very Q&A based, whereas Meat spoke at us for some time first, which was much more engaging, perhaps because many of the questions were Dr Who related for Capaldi and yet there is so much more to the man. I really give him his due because I think, deep down, he’s glad to be moving on now, and perhaps this may be the last time he does a convention. Bring back Malcolm Tucker I say!

By the end of the talk I was done! I was getting tired (not as young as I used to be). The crowds were manic. I was in search of a Cosplay Alien and Predator for my seven year old but, honestly, I didn’t see many serious Cosplay members, though I did see some awesome costumes. I did see the demon from Evil Dead who I had met several months previous when my son and I met Bruce Campbell. His companion remembered me, and asked where my son was! Most of the actors had gone to lunch so I couldn’t even sneak any shots from a-far which was a little disappointing as I wasn’t sure I could stay around much longer – I was wilting. I had really wanted to meet Lance Henriksen who was away doing a photoshoot, but he came back from his shoot early to sign some more autographs, and I managed to get a priceless autograph on a shot of him as Bishop, in half, that only my friend Ray could tell you the significance of. We had an amazing few minutes, him holding my hand with both hands. I cannot express how much this meant to me.

As I began to stroll out of the main autograph area, back towards the gallery, I had a peek at Paul Kaye’s desk. People had started queuing so I assumed he must have been returning from lunch pretty soon. I joined the queue behind some Game of Thrones fans. I have to confess that I’ve not quite joined the fan-train for the series. I’ve adored Paul Kaye since Two Thousand Acres of Sky and loved him in BlackballMongrels … The most peculiar thing happened at this point in the day. I had kept my composure externally, throughout the day, but when I saw Paul I fangirled (a term I hadn’t heard until this weekend). We shared a few words, a wonderful moment which I actually want to keep to myself, whilst he signed a head-shot for me, and he posed for a photo with me. I was, at this point, emotionally and physically exhausted, shaking even.

I would like to take my son and husband just so they can experience it. I did learn that I suffer from fangirl face – evident in both my pictures with Peter Capaldi and Paul Kaye, but I also learned that I didn’t need to binge buy autographs or photographs to leave on a high. I had one photo (two if you include the impromptu one with Paul) and two autographs, and I came away feeling like I was walking on air.

Mike Shinoda’s Post Traumatic is my Healing Record

POST TRAUMATIC IS A SPECTACULAR POST-TRAUMATIC ALBUM. A HEALING RECORD.

Mike Shinoda released his new album Post Traumatic, today, and is being consumed by many eager fans right now. The album starts with the three tracks he released as the EP a few months back, opening with ‘Place to Start’ – a really obvious and perfect introduction to his journey. However, like many Linkin Park fans, ‘Over Again’ is where it truly starts. We relate to it in a very anomalous way. Let’s face it, we didn’t know Chester Bennington, and yet, like Shinoda, we’re grieving. Listening to this track, absorbing the sound, the lyrics, in a silent space, you can truly hear that he was living it as he was recording it. You feel the build up of  the grief. In the chorus you have the sadness and the pain. In the verses you have the anger and the fear. This track is perhaps the rawest for me.

Shinoda hasn’t shied away from exposing his vulnerabilities on his online platforms or in his music, which is something I have a lot of respect for. As his third track, ‘Watching as I Fall’ stipulates, everybody is watching his actions, and watching his reactions.

‘My inside’s out, my left is right, my upside’s down, my black is white, I hold my breath, I close my eyes, and wait for dawn, but there’s no light.’ – ‘Nothing Makes Sense Anymore’

Although Shinoda’s solo sound is somewhat different to that of Linkin Park’s, his ability to write a memorable chorus is incredible, and the music itself is emotive. I’m not a fan of instrumentals, I like lyrics to relate to (and shout out, at the top of my lungs, in the car), or to understand the narrative of the author, but Shinoda has captivated me with his instrumental ‘Brooding’, I was right there with him, I could feel that sense of being inside myself, the many voices, questions, anxieties.

There is definitely a lost and found element to this album. He’s lost direction, he’s finding direction. He’s lost his friend, he’s rediscovering himself. He lost control, he regains control. It really is a roller-coaster.

‘And they’ll tell you I don’t care anymore, and I hope you’ll know that’s a lie…this is not a goodbye now, I’m not going away, no I don’t have the answers, but I do have the faith.’ – ‘Crossing a Line’

The album also feels like a message to the Linkin Park family, and perhaps to his friends and family too.

‘I’m just trying to hold my shit together, together, darlin’ ‘ – ‘Hold it Together’

Shinoda’s ‘Hold it Together’ track is something that many of us have felt, and it’s so encouraging almost, to have someone else feel the same way – but then again, that’s what bonded the Linkin Park family in the first place. Throughout the past six months particularly, Shinoda has been helping many fans hold their shit together, as much as I think the fans have helped him.

‘So I play along, I nod my head when they say I’m wrong, but each night falls and away I run, on the other side until the daylight comes.’ – ‘Ghosts’

The album contains some amazing collaborations, but K. Flay is my favourite – what a voice! It pierces your soul. The album, as a whole, exudes a strong emotional charge, and even the track that I was least impressed by, ended up winning me over by the end of the 2:43. Don’t hate on me, I rarely like every track on an album. To counter that thought, there is also a little treasure buried within all the tracks. A song which has a completely unique feel against the backdrop of the rest of Post Traumatic, possibly because Shinoda sings all the way through, no rapping, and is clearly a message to his wife. It’s the penultimate song on the album, giving a slightly more hopeful resolution to the record.

In short, this album is a record of Shinoda’s grieving. It has the emotional obstacles he’s faced, and facing, rendered in song. It is a vessel in which he shares with you his heart, his soul, his journey. The only thing I wish was different about the album, would have been the inclusion of his song ‘Looking for an Answer’ which he debuted at the Linkin Park & Friends Celebrate Life in Honor of Chester Bennington in Los Angeles, late last year.

I am so pleased for Shinoda. He has made Chester proud, I’m sure. But most importantly, I think he’s made himself proud. I find the death of Chester very hard sometimes, a sadness which is perhaps more profound than it should be towards someone I didn’t know, and yet it seems to be quite normal when you talk to other people when someone they admire pass away. But it’s important to understand that the impact his passing has had on those who did know him is clearly massive for many reasons, and Shinoda’s album demonstrates this in a passionate and acute way. This will be my healing record.

Hail to the King: Bruce Campbell Greets Fans at Forbidden Planet

Groovy by name, and groovy by nature. Bruce Campbell turned up in London, March 13th, to promote and sign a copy of his book and fan merchandise. He didn’t disappoint.

Picture Credit: Jon Cloutman-Green

Bruce Campbell Signing at Forbidden Planet, London Megastore, March 13, 2018


This signing was to be a family affair, but due to my husband putting his back out two days before (and it being recommended for him not to travel), our six-year-old stepped into his dad’s shoes to attend the signing. Although disappointed by his inability to go, he was thoroughly proud when he heard what we had been up to.

It was 3pm and we had arrived on Shaftesbury Avenue at the London Megastore. The signing was at 6pm, and there appeared to be no queue forming as of yet. We looked around the store and purchased their exclusive Ash vs Evil Dead pop vinyl, and started a discussion with the guy at the checkout.

Forbidden Planet Staff


I had called Forbidden Planet in advance of coming, conscious of bringing a six-year-old, the long wait, and the distance we were travelling. The event was scheduled for 6pm until 7pm. I was a tad concerned about not getting to see Bruce, after having to travel all that way. The staff were amazing, from the first phone call to the evening of the signing. Whilst purchasing the pop vinyl I was informed that the queue was forming behind the store, on New Compton Street. We were given permission to use their facilities (should my son need to within the next three hours), and they would support us with ensuring we stayed inline. I was also informed that they were going to try and get Bruce there an hour earlier. That was a statement that I welcomed. We did need to use the facilities and all the staff were accommodating, so a massive big up for all the staff at the London Megastore.

Picture Credit: Jon Cloutman-Green

Well Hello, Mr. Fancy Pants


The queue was not too long when we joined it. The air was somewhat warm, and we stood in line chatting with two amazing women for the majority of the time, my boy delivering a monologue about movies he’s never seen, and won’t for quite a few years yet. There were strict rules of how the event was going to happen, which was in the best interest for everyone, to ensure that everyone got to meet Bruce. Initially, Forbidden Planet staff came around with printed rules, for those who had not seen them online, and then one of Bruce’s team came around and reiterated. At this point we knew Bruce was in store, and an hour early! The husband of one of the women I had been speaking to had turned up just in time, and we all started to shuffle up.

Someone called out that Bruce was walking down the street, and there with his entourage, he walked the line. My boy, waved, in awe.

‘Hey Kid. High Five! Down below. Too Slow!’

Well, I’ll be damned – I was now jealous of my six-year-old. Is that allowed?  The husband who had arrive just in time, asked if I wanted the photos! Oh wow, yes please. About 10 minutes later, one of Bruce’s team came to us and said they wanted to move us down to the front of the queue as they were aware he had been waiting a while, and that it was getting cold. WOW!

Once home, and browsing Instagram, I came across someone who had caught the whole thing on video. What was amazing was that it was Bruce himself who had told his team to get us down the front. Groovy!

Hail to the Chin


Once we got in, everything went so fast. One of Bruce’s team took my items, one member of staff – possibly the store manager – was aware of who I was (thanks to a tweet sent by my husband) and spoke to me, another member of staff took my phone to take photos, and then a conversation ensued with Bruce about my husband too, all whilst my boy got another handshake from the great man himself, the rest is a blur. He signed his book and my husband’s very old VHS cover to the Evil Dead, which he signed, Stay Groovy! (signature) Ash! He was funny and charming. He did, however, state that my husband should have come no matter what – and I think had the specialist not of stipulated her opinion so strongly, he absolutely would have.

A Big Shout Out


Original Video Credit: Jon Cloutman-Green

A couple of people caught the interaction between Bruce Campbell and my boy, and as a result we have captured a memory he will never forget. I can’t thank you guys enough.

You can grab your own signed copy of Hail to the Chin via the Forbidden Planet Website. Don’t miss out!