The beaming smile
spreads its wings
in rays of sunshine,
as it flies through
a ring of darkness.
from the antics
of the clown.
Once again I delved into the past and went to see a matinee performance of ‘Motown the musical’ at Sunderland Empire Theatre. One of the first singles I bought was ‘My Guy’ by Mary Wells, so I’ve enjoyed Motown music for many years. I was interested in the story of how Berry Gordy started Tamla Motown, and yes it was interesting. The actor performing him had a good voice but he was surpassed by the performers who were ‘Stevie Wonder’ complete with beaded dreadlocks and a young ‘Michael Jackson’ as a member of the Jackson Five. As for the rest, they played their parts well enough and with great enthusiasm. Of course, the songs were great but diminished by the orchestration which made the songs lose their unique sound– there was none of the ‘driving bass lines’ that made Motown music incomparable. I think that this show has all the elements to make it great, but the orchestra needs replacing with something more like ‘Motown’.
A few days ago I bought a punnet of nectarines (13 for 50p) but soon their skin began to wrinkle and I thought I couldn’t eat all of them before they became to inedible so a friend suggested I made some jam with them. Well, I’ve never done that before and I can’t be bothered with fancy or time consuming recipes. I only want something quick and very simple. So I found the one below. After making the jam I tried it on a piece of toast. ‘Yes’, I thought, ‘mild, a bit like strawberry.’ So, that’s another string to my bow. LOL!!
Nectarine jam recipe.
The following weight ratios can be used for any combination of fruit.
6 fruit (de-stoned weight 236g)
Sugar 80% of the fruit weight (188g)
1 tablespoon of lemon juice.
Cut up fruit and remove stones. Ensure the fruit pieces are small (mine were too big so I reduced them with a blender).
Mix the sugar and lemon juice into the fruit.
Leave the mixture for a least one hour but overnight is better, to allow the sugar to draw out the juice.
Pour the mixture into a saucepan and heat gently until the sugar has dissolved.
Boil the jam until it reaches its setting point. This can be tested by taking a spoonful and holding it vertically. If some of it sticks, it’s ready; if runs off completely continue to cook. The other way to test is by using a thermometer and reading a temperature of 105C.
Once you think the jam can set, let it cool and put it into your containers.
Another night, another tribute performer. This time it was Navi, performing at Whitley Bay Playhouse as Michael Jackson in the show entitled ‘King of Pop.’ During the first few songs I was thinking this was more ‘Naff’ than ‘Navi’. The sound was too ‘tinny’, his movement were wooden and he seemed as if he was just going through the motions. It was like watching someone on stage at a working men’s club where there is little stage lighting or effects. But I persevered and did he, so by the time the show reached a couple of songs before the interval, things were improving. He got off the stage and sang while wandering through the audience and engaged in some repartee when he returned onstage. I don’t know what occurred during the interval but straight after returning onstage, there was an immediate improvement in his dancing and singing while he performed a medley of ‘Jackson Five’ hits in conjunction with better stage and lightning effects plus the back screen displaying relative images. Next was ‘Billie Jean’, this is where he ‘nailed’ it. His movements, voice, stage effects and sound were right ‘on the button’. He continued with ‘Thriller’ and more. All now performed to the higher standard. Obviously, the ‘MJ’ fans loved everything but I think some were not only intoxicated by alcohol but intoxicatingly awed by being at the performance.
It was with some trepidation that I returned to see a musical at Newcastle Theatre Royal after seeing what I consider the worst musical I’ve ever seen – Les Miserables. Today’s offering was the Queen musical ‘We will rock you.’ Of course I knew all the songs due to their fame. I was immediately hooked when it started with ‘Radio Gaga’ with slightly different lyrics to suit the narrative. As for the story, I thought it was quite relevant to the state of pop music today. I could empathize with the main characters and their plight. I enjoyed the witticisms strewn throughout the performance as the cast went through their parts with obvious enjoyment. The customs were in some cases, extraordinary; the singing, enthusiastic and well sung, but it was the stage set, for me that really caught my attention – constantly changing and inventive. So, from seeing the worst musical, I would consider this the best I’ve seen. Absolutely a treat for the ears and eyes!
After spending all day on a rainy Sunday updating my memory, listening to Pink Floyd albums which I’ve never played for about 40 years; I went to see the tribute band UK Pink Floyd Experience at Whitley Bay Playhouse. As musicians, they were of a high calibre (especially the lead guitarist) which was equalled by the their light show. I was glad that they announced they would be performing not only the whole of ‘Dark side of the Moon, but at least one song from every album. They started with ‘Astronomy Domine’ then straight into ‘Arnold Layne’, two of my favourites, so I was immediately on their side. After the interval they did a stunning version of ‘Shine on you crazy diamond’, which went beyond the high standard set by the other songs. This was followed by ‘Dark Side’ continuous until its end. My only quibble would be the vocals of the Bass guitarist, they need to be a bit stronger for those songs that he performs. Nevertheless, it was an excellent concert.