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Rod Liddle

Franz Ferdinand: Always Ascending

Grade: A Yay, people with a modicum of wit. They come along so very rarely these days. A decade on and that punky, guitar-driven power-pop funk has long since been expunged. Singer Alex Kapranos expressed a wish for Franz Ferdinand to reinvent themselves — and has turned to the same source inspiration as did their

Lend me your ears | 22 February 2018

Audio description, or AD, as it is fondly called, is coming of age. Once consigned to the utility room of grey voices reading boring cues to inform blind people what was going on on stage or screen, AD is now a dynamic narrative form that is findinga presence in almost all the arts (from opera,

Wronged women

A bumper fortnight for Covent Garden florists thanks to a 20th-anniversary flower shower for the Royal Ballet’s Marianela Nunez and bales of bouquets to mark major debuts by new(ish) principals Francesca Hayward and Yasmine Naghdi. Giselle, the timid village beauty whose ghost returns to forgive her duplicitous lover, was never an obvious vehicle for Nunez’s

When content-creators fight

None of us is above YouTube, and nothing is beneath it. We have of course all long since submitted to a universal medium whose sole purpose appears to be the promotion of the universal below-average, but this doesn’t mean that there isn’t pleasure to be had from watching content created by so-called ‘content-creators’ whose created

Seeing the light | 22 February 2018

The impermanence of works of art is a worry for curators though not usually for artists, especially not at the start of their careers. But Anthony McCall was only in his mid-thirties when his creations vanished before his eyes. It was in New York in the early 1970s that McCall came up with the idea


House rules | 22 February 2018

The Donmar’s new show, The York Realist, dates from 2001. The programme notes tell us that the playwright, Peter Gill, ‘is one of the most important and influential writers and directors of the past 30 years’. Who wrote that? Not Peter Gill, I hope. The play, directed by Robert Hastie, follows a gay affair between


It’s the music, stupid

‘Welcome to our hearts again, Iolanthe!’ sings the fairy chorus in Gilbert and Sullivan’s fantasy-satire, and during this exuberant new production by Cal McCrystal you could almost hear the assembled G&S fans sighing in agreement. Iolanthe is our trump card against the sceptics, and not merely because Gilbert’s digs at parliamentary politics are still so


Losing the plot | 22 February 2018

ITV’s Marcella (Monday) represents another triumphant breakthrough in the portrayal of female cops on television. Of course, thanks to more or less every other crime show around, we already know that women in their forties can be senior police officers. But what Marcella makes even clearer than, say, Vera or No Offence is that so


Keeping up with the Joneses

To bleak, boarded-up Margate — and a salt-and-vinegar wind that leaves my face looking like Andy Warhol’s botched 1958 nose-peel — to see Journeys with ‘The Waste Land’ at Turner Contemporary. The exhibition has been organised by a group of local residents, who selected the exhibits, designed the layout, and wrote the exhibition texts. In


One of the best things about Beehives, Bobs and Blow-dries — yep, an exhibition about hairdressing — is the reaction of visitors. Some are getting on a bit and their pangs of recognition as they pass 1970s straightening tongs or Carmen heated rollers are evident. One woman exclaimed, as she passed a Ronson hairdryer with

Sound investment

Listen closely, among the shelves of the last remaining music shops, in student dorm rooms and amid the flat whites and reclaimed wood of certain coffee shops, and you’ll hear a sound that many thought long banished. Check out the steadily rising sales figures of the past few years and there’s little doubt: the vinyl



Dark River is the much-anticipated third feature from British writer/director Clio Barnard and it is one of those bleak, rural- England dramas featuring cement-coloured skies, wind, rain, mud, rusted old farm machinery and dead animals — do people who move out from the city know what they are letting themselves in for? — as well


Light and dark | 22 February 2018

This week’s edition of Ramblings with Clare Balding did all the usual things: a walk in the country (cue breathy conversation as we followed her up hill and down dale), braving the elements (there’s always rain at some point) with a dog in tow, and in the company of someone for whom the walk has