Giving it some Elbow

What with one thing and another, I had rather lost track of what Sting was up to. Still on the lute? Moved on to nose flutes? Thrash metal rereadings of back catalogue? It turns out that he has taken to the road with an orchestra, in a heroic stand against the bitter frugality of these

All that jazz | 8 October 2011

The human voice has always been celebrated as one of the most direct forms of musical and personal expression. This is especially true in jazz, where improvisation is such a key element. We so often listen to singers ‘baring their soul’, revealing something ‘deep within’. The human voice has always been celebrated as one of

Arts feature

Northern lights | 8 October 2011

Those BBC refuseniks will rue the day they passed up the chance to relocate to Salford, England’s new cultural capital, says William Cook Standing on the roof of Daniel Libeskind’s Imperial War Museum North, staring at the shiny new buildings down below, you could be forgiven for thinking you were in Hamburg or Berlin. There’s

More from Arts

House rules | 8 October 2011

Britain needs more houses, and the government’s highly unpopular draft National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) at least asks how to get them — the right question even if it gives the wrong answer. Anyone who deals with the planning system knows how overblown it has become, and that the cost and effort can exhaust a


The leprechaun factor

Riots at theatres, commonplace before the Great War, have mysteriously gone out of fashion. J.M. Synge’s classic, The Playboy of the Western World, was disrupted many times during its opening week in 1907 by Dubliners who objected to its portrayal of the rural poor in the west of Ireland. Strange that, feigning outrage on behalf


Beguiled by Weill

  Street Scene may well be Kurt Weill’s most successful work from his American period, but seeing it in as good a production as the Opera Group’s at the Young Vic was cause for both enjoyment and reservations. In the next couple of weeks it will be touring to Basingstoke, Edinburgh, Newcastle and Hull, so


Nice Mr Fry

Whenever I find myself dreaming about how awful things would be under a red/green dictatorship — increasingly often, these days — the one person who gives me a glimmer of hope that I might get out of the hell alive is Stephen Fry. He’s a leftie, of course — but, like Frank Field and Kate


Pictorial intelligence

Edgar Degas (1834–1917) was born into a banking family, always knew he wanted to be a painter and was fortunate enough to be encouraged in his enthusiasm by his parents. After a classical training he began to paint portraits and history subjects, before seeing the relevance of real life and developing ways in which to


Dare to care

Tyrannosaur is very much in the British working-class miserablist tradition in the sense that it is full of masculine fury and the women who take the brunt of it, and if this does not sound an attractive proposition, it’s because it isn’t, and never is, but, as far as these unattractive propositions go, this is


Smart operator

Back in the Fifties, it was possible for a single TV sitcom to capture 92 per cent of the small-screen audience; 92 per cent? It sounds astonishing to us now. The idea of so many people watching the very same comic gags at the very same time. Those fabled water-cooler, coffee-machine chats about what was