Sunday, 27 February 2011

How the Housemartins Gave Me Back My Mojo

Back in 2009 I got all excited on these very pages at the news that the original members of the Housemartins (my favourite band, lest we forget) had reunited for the first time in 22 years to do an interview for the UK music magazine, Mojo.

I clearly wasn't alone, as the posts that I wrote on the subject (yes, there was more than one...) remain some of the most well read in Mint Custard's brief and inauspicious history. Many hundreds of people (I know, unlikely but true) have googled the Housemartins mini-reunion and arrived here hoping for either a concert announcement (I've long given up hope) or the chance to read the article online.

Sadly it isn't available anywhere, a fact that made me get off my bony bottom and write to the people at Mojo asking them to post it online or at least give permission for me to reprint it here. Frustratingly, they just ignored my email. I received an automated 'please don't bother us' and nothing more. Then I tried to find the author, David Hutcheon. I Googled and Googled but (apart from finding out he writes lots of articles about world music for The Times which I can't access because they have a paywall) again, nothing.

So now, given that the interview is almost two years old, and given that no one is going to make or lose money from it and also because I would like to improve the lives of the hopeful souls who just want to read an interview with the 4th best band from Hull, I'm going to do what most people on the internet would have done in the first place and just post it anyway.

If you are David Hutcheon or indeed anyone from Mojo and you'd like to send me an angry letter packed with threats then you know where I am. For everyone else (and with apologies for the limitations of my scanner) please enjoy the final reunion of Hugh, Paul, Stan and Norman; the mighty Housemartins.

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Radio Days

O’Brien, Selway, Yorke, Greenwood (yes, both of you), a word in my office if I may. Chop chop. Come in, come in. Sit down all of you. Shut the door will you Yorke. Now… this King of Limbs business. I have to say, I’m a little disappointed in you… all of you….

Now now, don’t start with your ‘it’s too early for reviews, it’s a grower, you need to give it a few listens’ rubbish. I’m not interested. Well actually that’s not fair. I am interested. I’m a fan as you know. I’ve had many a wobbly lipped moment standing on windswept winter beaches with my walkman on listening to you chaps and I still spend quiet moments wondering what the Just video is about. No, I haven’t dragged you in here to tell you that King of Limbs isn’t enough like the Bends or that I’d rather it was a bit more Kid A than Amnesiac. If I’m honest, I haven’t even given it a listen yet. I will, of course, but – and this is why I’m mad at you, I’m a bit busy listening to everything else that got released this week.

Oh yes Mr Greenwood, yes there were other things released this week. Many things. Many good things. Things like the Lovely Eggs' splendid new album Cob Dominos. And the rather marvellous Let England Shake by PJ Harvey in which she imagines herself as a song correspondent from World War One and unexpectedly samples Winston ‘Niney’ Holness’ Blood & Fire amongst other party tricks. And then there’s Hotel Shampoo, Gruff Rhys’ long-awaited follow-up to Candylion. Let us not forget that Mr Rhys been quietly going about his business collecting miniature shampoo bottles from hotels for over 15 years in preparation for the launch of his long player. No spur of the moment look-at-me from him. It’s been planned for months. See it’s there, in my calendar. 14 February. Gruff. Next to “Eggs (Lovely)” and “Peej.” I’ve been waiting, you see.

The thing is gentlemen, you are Radiohead. That’s Ra-di-o-head. Yes that one. You are a band who could record the sound of yourselves farting into a bell jar and send the ‘alternative’ press and the blogosphere – whatever the hell that is – into a tizzy with the promise that you’ll stick it on your website for sort-of-free. Look at the knicker-wetting you caused at the Guardian. They ran a live blog about how excited they were about King of Limbs arriving in their inboxes that got more hits than their live coverage of the uprisings in Libya and Bahrain. Pillocks.

You don’t have a record label. You don’t have companies whose financial future depends on your every utterance. You are critically acclaimed and commercially successful millionaires. You can do what you like, when you like. You could release new music on the day World War 3 is announced and people would still be saying ‘have you heard track three? It’s better than Hail to the Thief but not a patch on In Rainbows. Oh-my-god-we’re-all-going-to-die.’

Anyway, my point is, look around you chaps. Spare a thought for others. Don’t you think maybe it would have been nice to see PJ at number one? Or to have radio stations saying that Hotel Shampoo was their album of the week? Or just to have people talking about how ace the Lovely Eggs are and playing their songs on the telly and the wireless? Couldn’t you have released it on Kate ‘n Wills’ wedding day or how about Good Friday? Nothing nice ever happens on Good Friday…

But no, instead you just couldn’t wait could you? Oh civilisation as we know it would have crumbled if you hadn’t gotten your new mini-album – now, now Greenwood, be honest – 8 tracks is not a full album - out into the world. Anyway, the damage is done now and there’s nothing to be done. Just bear it in mind for next time eh? Sorry Yorke, what? There won’t be any more Radiohead albums? Pull the other one mate. Now, get out of my office, you scallywags.’

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Beat the Retreat

Those with long memories might remember my interview last year with the lovely Rani Cameron. She's an Australian comedy writer and performer now living in Somerset in the UK who spends much of her spare time writing, directing, producing, filming, editing and performing in her own sitcom.

It's called Retreat and if you haven't heard of it until now that's probably due to it's self-proclaimed status as a zero budget sitcom. Funded completely out of her pocket and the goodwill of the people around her Retreat has been a labour of love for Rani. Fortunately it's also rather funny as you can see from the first episode which has been on You Tube since last August.

Filming finishes on another low-stress episode of Retreat

The good news is that she wasn't deterred by the strain of putting together that first episode and a freshly completed 16 minute second episode is now available online. If you'd like to check it out go to and search for 'Retreat Episode 2' or just do the clicky thing with your mouse here. I laughed after 4 seconds so Rani and her crew must still be doing something right... Congrats to the team, and here's to Part 3 sometime soon.

Sunday, 20 February 2011

Dan or be Danned

There was a time, not so long ago, when just about every post on Mint Custard was announcing some Daniel Kitson show or other. In a way it’s been nice not to have to try and keep up, but then again it has now been a whole year since my dark corner of the world was brightened by Kitson’s little miner’s hat lamp of comedy.

Anyway, the good news is that Daniel’s long promised Edinburgh 2009 show The Interminable Suicide of Gregory Church is finally here. In the vein of his C-90 and 66a Church Road, this is a theatre piece rather than stand up. This isn’t to say it won’t be funny but judging by the blurb there will also likely be dollops of poignant, pithy and portentousness:

Gregory had fifty seven letters to write. He’d never written that many letters, not in one go. In fact, he’d never written a single letter and it was taking significantly longer than he’d anticipated. He’d started, full of optimism, curiously enough, at 9 am and now here he was 8 hours later half way through letter twenty four. He glanced at his watch and then at the noose hanging over his head.

Gregory sighed. Had he known how long suicide letters take, he thought, he wouldn’t have cancelled the milk for the morning.

The story of a death postponed by life.

Having already played in New York and certain corners of the UK, The Interminable Suicide of Gregory Church is in Australia and New Zealand from now until April 2011 and will be followed by another jaunt around the UK in May. Dates, details and web-links for tickets are below, assuming I haven’t cocked them up. Which is possible.


24-25 Feb Darwin, Browns Mart Theatre

28 Feb–2 Mar Brisbane, Powerhouse

4-6 Mar Adelaide, Town Hall

8–12 Mar Auckland, Herald Theatre

15–26 Mar Sydney, Seymour Centre

12-24 April Melbourne, Fairfax Studio, Arts Centre

26-27 April Perth, Octagon Theatre


3–4 May Brighton, Pavillion Theatre

6 May Durham, Gala Theatre

7 May Sheffield, Crucible Theatre

10 May Lincoln, Drill Hall

11 May Birmingham, MAC

12 May Bath, Ustinov Studio

16 May Norwich, Arts Centre

18 May Scarborough, Stephen Joseph Theatre

19-20 May Edinburgh, Traverse Theatre

21–23 May Bristol, Tobacco Factory

26 May Newbury, Corn Exchange

28 May Hull, Hull Truck Theatre

30 May Nottingham, Playhouse

31 May Manchester, Royal Exchange

For us Melbourne folk, Kitson’s show is taking place as part of the 2011 Melbourne International Comedy Festival, the program for which is launched this Saturday. A cursory glance through list of shows acts on the website suggests an absence of star names this year, which is a shame in terms of generating casual excitement. Still, given many of my favourite shows in 2010 were by local acts perhaps it just means a cheaper March and April than I’d anticipated.

Stay tuned for reviews and news about the festival, and please please please please - if you have any suggestions for me to go and see or if you’re a local act and want to talk about your show for the benefit of all 3 regular Mint Custard readers feel free to leave a comment, or email me at T’ra.