SCENE AND HEARD
Summer, summer, summer time! Mike Took’s got his tent and bevvies ready. So, what’s happening?
In or out, shake it all about
Tent? Check. Factor 50? Check. Car boot loaded up with booze? Check and mate. We have the equipment, provisions and wheels ready to go, so where to? Canadian pop prince Justin Bieber (Principality Stadium, June 30, from £50, principalitystadium.wales) brings his Purpose World Tour to Cardiff. Haters will probably be asking ‘what exactly is the purpose of this?’ whereas the Beliebers will be counting down the days until their bleached-haired hero touches down on Welsh soil.
Sticking with the theme of Marmite mega-selling acts, Coldplay (Principality Stadium, July 1/12, from £50, principalitystadium.wales) have A Head Full Of Dreams and they want to share them with you in Cardiff this summer. The tens of thousands singing along to every word at their gigs won’t care one jot about the critics.
Let’s turn our attention to something everyone likes... choice! There’s choice a-plenty when it comes to music fests in Wales. The season begins with Fire in the Mountain (Aberystwyth, June 2-4, from £100, fireinthemountain.co.uk), a gentle, bluesy affair set at the foot of the Cambrian Mountains.
From mid Wales to south, if the festival purse-strings are pulling a bit tight, you can soak up tunes free of charge at Monmouth Festival (various venues, July 28-Aug 5, FREE, monmouthfestival.co.uk). Information on acts was scarce at time of press, but come on, it’s free!
Back to some festivals where you will have to part with your green (see what I did there?) Green Man Festival is one of our faves (Brecon Beacons, August 17-20, from £180, greenman.net). The picture postcard views of the Glanusk Estate pull us back every year, but the line-up for 2017 is one of the finest in Greenman’s history: PJ Harvey, Future Islands, Ryan Adams and Ride are the standout acts.
Not to be outdone in the star and scenery stakes, Festival Number 6 (Portmeirion, September 7-10, from £195, festivalnumber6.com) turns the Italianate village of Portmeirion into a cultural hive of activity. Music highlights this year include Bloc Party, Flaming Lips and Wild Beasts.
Staying in the north, the after dark little brother of the Eisteddfod, Maes B (Bodedern, August 4-17, season ticket from £110, maesb.com) heads to Anglesey for another showcase of the best new Welsh-language music. This year’s festival features Calfari, Y Reu and Yr Eira.
Of course, not everyone’s idea of a good time is spent outdoors. Those looking to sidestep the multi-faceted Welsh climate but still bend their ear towards some fine music will enjoy the splendour of the Welsh Proms (St David’s Hall, Cardiff, July 22-29, from £7.50, stdavidshallcardiff.co.uk). The Last Night of the Welsh Proms is the obvious highlight, but those who don’t sit well in pomp and ceremony can instead make a date for the Folk Prom (featuring Josienne Clark and Ben Walker) or have all the relatives in tow for the Family Prom: The Dance Off. Go easy on those hips, granddad.
So that’s the summer soundtrack sorted, how about something to get us laughing other than the inevitable Welsh washout? Someone that’s sure to turn our pessimism around is stand-up stalwart Jimmy Carr (St David’s Hall, June 6, £27.50, stdavidshallcardiff.co.uk). Jimmy’s latest show is modestly titled The Best Of, Ultimate, Gold, Greatest Hits Tour. Essentially, a trawl through his favourite material from bygone days spliced together with new material.
Everyone’s favourite cross-dressing Irishman (because we don’t know of any others) Brendan O’Carroll, aka Mrs Brown, brings the insanely popular sitcom to the stage in Mrs Brown’s Boys: Good Mourning Mrs Brown (Cardiff Motorpoint Arena, June 14-18, from £38.50, livenation.co.uk).
From cross-dressing to crass laughs, the underrated Scottish comedian Limmy (Cardiff Glee Club, June 12, £16, glee.co.uk) will be bringing his Daft Wee Stories to Cardiff. Like Mrs Brown, Limmy’s not to everyone’s taste, but his weirdly hilarious take on life gets the double thumbs-up from us.
Treading on much safer comedy ground, ubiquitous TV panel-show guest Jon Richardson (St David’s Hall, September 28, £20.50, stdavidshallcardiff.co.uk) will be musing about the state of the world (and how he has no solutions to fix it) in his latest show, Old Man.
Time for a shout out to RedHanded’s own resident comic and all-round top person, Bennett Arron. Bennett is recording the second series of his BBC Radio Wales show Bennett Arron Worries About...in Cardiff. (Chapter Arts Centre, June 1, FREE, chapter.org.uk). Hear Bennett worry about, amongst other things: travelling, relationships and whether or not he’s had an accident that wasn’t his fault. All for free too - don’t say we don’t give you anything.
Treading the bards
OK, let’s brave the outdoors again. Only this time we’re swapping the tunes for bards with a veritable feast of theatre. It begins with Cardiff Open Air Theatre Festival (Sophia Gardens, Cardiff, June 22 - July 29, cardiffopenairtheatrefestival.co.uk). The signature Shakespeare staples are present and correct (Macbeth, Twelfth Night) but there will also be some lighter fare in the form of the musical comedy Spamalot and fun for the little ones with Disney’s Aladdin Junior.
Back to grown-up entertainment (actually, not that grown-up at all), open air theatre group Lord Chamberlain’s Men (Cardiff Castle, July 6-7, from £10, cardiffcastle.com) present the theatrical farce Comedy of Errors. Roll out the rug, unload the picnic hamper and enjoy some riotous fun with a bunch of cross-dressing thespians (there seems to be a theme developing, here).
More Shakespeare happenings in the summer! This time they’re in the form of The Tempest (Thompson’s Park Cardiff, June 8-10, Roath Park Cardiff, June 18, tickets from £6, chapter.org.uk) and given a new spin by Taking Flight Theatre. We’ve been promised laughs, live music and a load of theatrical surprises.
OK, we get it, you don’t like the outdoors! No bother, there’s plenty of theatrical goings on in the dry. Time to slick the hair back, stick out the collar of your leather jacket and pull on your bobby-socks for the musical royalty that is Grease (Wales Millennium Centre, July 17-29, from £13, wmc.org.uk).
Staying indoors, Mrs Robinson is in full-on seduction mode in The Graduate (New Theatre, June 20 - 24, from £12, newtheatrecardiff.co.uk). This slick comedy breathes new life into the landmark novel and Oscarwinning film, including those awesome tunes from Simon and Garfunkel.
Until next time, friends.
Image: Julia Kennedy
Image: Paul Coltas