Space @ Doncaster Diamond Live Lounge


Doncaster has always had a healthy relationship with the Britpop era going right back to the legendary Britpop night at Karisma in the 90’s (currently being revived on the last Saturday of every month at Vintage Rockbar).


Mark Morris of The Bluetones fame and Chris Helme from the The Seahorses are regular visitors to Doncaster and earlier this year Cast played at Diamond Live Lounge. Cast’s fellow Liverpudlians Space were the latest Britpop stars to rock up to Doncaster.

After a brilliant set from local heroes 48K’s, Space took to the stage to the backdrop of a huge projection screen showing psychedelic imagery to suit their eclectic sound and launched straight into a rocked up version of Charlie M from début album Spiders. Fellow Spiders tracks Drop Dead and Mr Psycho followed and it was surprising how beefy and rocked up Space sound live compared to on record but this made for a compelling viewing experience. Begin Again from second album Tin Planet was well received before the first big sing along to The Ballad of Tom Jones complete with a projected Cerys Matthews from Catatonia singing her part of the classic Britpop duet.


A couple of new songs sandwiched crowd favourite Avenging Angels before everyone went nuts for The Female of the Species prompting mass sing alongs. From there it was all gold with new song Burn Down the School going down a storm before top 20 hit Neighbourhood had the crowd dancing. After a speeded up punky version of Me and You vs. The World, Space briefly left the stage before being shouted back by the crowd.

With Diamond Live Lounge’s two pint pot for £5 offer being taken up by seemingly everyone in attendance the crowd were ready to party and a raucous cover version of The Animals classic We Gotta Get Out of This Place was worth the admission price alone. Closing the set the Liverpool band treated the audience to another rendition of The Female of the Species with singer Tommy Scott wading into the crowd to dance amongst his fans, at one point even allowing one of the punters to sing into the microphone – with hilarious results as the crowd collectively winced.

A great night, a great venue and a great band. Viva Britpop!

This article originally appeared in Doncopolitan magazine:

Draft Day – 7.5/10


The King of Sports Films prevails again…


It took Kevin Costner’s career a long time to recover from the disaster that was Waterworld but he has had a bit of a renaissance in recent years with solid roles in The Company Men and Man of Steel. Draft Day is a welcome continuation of Costner’s Indian summer and a return to an area he mined so successfully earlier in his career in films such as Field of Dreams and Tin Cup.

Similarly Ghostbusters director Ivan Reitman has also hit on hard times in the last decade so it is especially pleasing to see Draft Day be such a watchable movie with Reitman behind the camera.

The reason Costner works so well in this genre is that it is impossible not to root for him which makes the big fairytale endings less eye rollingly predictable and more heart warming and ultimately satisfying.

The Big K has able support along side him with Jennifer Garner giving a strong performance as well as clichéd but enjoyable turns from Dennis Leary and Frank Langella respectively as the team manager and team owner.


The Big K alongside Jennifer Garner

It is a testament to Costner’s charisma that the fact I have zero interest in American Football never felt like a handicap as Draft Day is just as much a character study as it is a sports film.

Draft Day is not original, it does feel like a throw back, but sometimes that is all cinema needs to be – a good story, acted well, that leaves a lasting impression.


The Top Ten Best TV Shows of 2015


Here lies a comprehensive list of the ten best TV shows I have watched in the year of our lord 2015. They aren’t all necessarily new shows but all have released a season in 2015 that I have really enjoyed.

DISCLAIMER – Obviously I am only one person so there is probably loads of stuff I may have missed this year (The Last Man on Earth) or haven’t finished watching (Daredevil) as well as some shows that haven’t fully aired yet (Peep Show).

So without further ado:

10. It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia


Where Are We: Season 10 and still going strong.

What’s It About: It’s Always Sunny… basically takes the basic Friends style premise but asks ‘what would happen if all the characters were selfish, deluded, monsters’.

Written by and starring Rob McElhenny and Glenn Howerton and co-starring Charlie Day, Kaitlin Olsen and Danny DeVito, It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia has become a cult classic amongst people who prefer their comedy to incorporate the darker side of life.

Why It Is Good: Season 9 was not a bad season but it was markedly the worst since season 1 so whispers of a decline was always a possibility. Season 10 however started strong with the gang attempting to beat legendary baseball hitter Wade Boggs’ record of downing 50 boys on a flight on the way to a game.

Taking in the genius of Charlie Work, an episode that finally showed glimpses of Charlie’s wild world away from the gang and the instant classic Frank Retires in which the gang become transfixed with a bottomless cess pit they encounter in the bathroom, season 10 was a classic 10 episodes of comedy.

Best Quote: ‘You? You think we’re going to give Frank’s shares to the man who wants to pull a mutant from a mystery hole in the bar and live with him?’

For fans Of: The League, Peep Show, The League of Gentlemen

9. Humans


Where Are We: Season 1

What’s It About: Based on a Swedish show originally (because all good TV is Scandinavian these days) Humans takes place in an alternative time line where AI is readily available down the local supermarket and the implications this has on a normal British family.

Why It Is Good: As we come closer and closer to actual AI, the clamour for media about an apocalyptic robot takeover has reached fever pitch. For every Ex Machina however there is a Terminator Salvation. Humans falls squarely in the former category by humanizing (shocker) the whole thing and viewing the events of a potentially world changing event through the eyes of one normal family.

Best Quote: ‘I live in that solitude that is painful in youth, but delicious in the years of maturity.’

For fans of: Utopia, Firefly, Black Mirror

8. Rick & Morty


Where Are We: Season 2

What’s It About: A kind of debauched animated version of Back to the Future in which Morty accompanies his mad scientist grandfather Rick on a series of surrealist and hilarious adventures.

Why It Is Good: With the continued excellence of South Park and Adventure Time and a strong second season of Bojack Horseman it was difficult to pick the cream of the cartoon crop but the second season of Rick & Morty was not only the funniest cartoon I watched in 2015, it was the funniest show period.

Created by Community‘s Dan Harmon, Rick & Morty even surpassed Harmon’s most well known project in 2015 despite Community coming back strong as well.

Watch season 2 opener A Rickle in Time if you don’t believe me. Easily one of the most ambitious episodes of a cartoon ever produced.

Best Quote: ‘Now, listen—I know the two of you are very different from each other in a lot of ways, but you have to understand that as far as Grandpa’s concerned, you’re both pieces of shit! Yeah. I can prove it mathematically.’

For Fans Of: Aqua Teen Hunger Force, Bojack Horseman, Community

7. The Leftovers


Where are we: Season 2

What’s It About: Contentious question right there. The Leftovers takes place in a world in which hundreds of thousands of people just vanished into thin air one day in some kind of presumed, religious end of days.

Why It Is Good: Being created by Lost co-creater Damien Lindelof, The Leftovers is full of mysteries and weird shit going down and just general Twin Peaksesque, WTFisms. The Leftovers has polarized some viewers but stick with it and you won’t be disappointed.

Worth watching for brilliant lead performances from Justin Theroux and Ann Dowd as well as a mesmerizing score, The Leftovers has gone even further down the rabbit hole in season 2 and the move to Miracle has helped to keep things fresh.

Best Quote: ‘She’s gone Kevin..’

For Fans Of: Lost, Twin Peaks, Wayward Pines

6. Fargo


Where are we: Season 2

What’s It About: As with True Detective, Fargo‘s second season introduces completely new characters and is set in a different time zone to the first series. A violent incident at a diner starts a war between two crime families whilst quiet townsfolk are caught in the crossfire.

Why It Is Good: It was always going to be tough to top Billy Bob Thornton and Martin Freeman as Lorne Malvo and Lester Nygaard but an ensemble cast of Kirsten Dunst, Patrick Wilson, Jean Smart and Ted Danson among others has ensured that Fargo‘s sophmore season has been almost as memorable as the first thus far.

Best Quote: ‘And isn’t that a minor miracle? The state of the world today and the level of conflict and misunderstanding, that two men could stand on a lonely road in winter and talk calmly and rationally while all around them, people are losing their mind.’

For Fans Of: Sopranos, True Detective, Boardwalk Empire

5. The Muppets.


Where are we: Season 1

What’s It About: Anthropomorphic fun times displayed as a mockumentary behind the scenes of fictional TV show Late Night With Miss Piggy.

Why It Is Good: This new Muppets show is a first for Jim Henson’s most famous creations as it tries to appeal to a more adult audience whilst still maintaining everything that makes The Muppets so special. While the interspecies relationships are a bit odd at first, the intelligent writing that has always accompanied any Muppets production lends itself well to a more grown up crowd.

Best Quote: Kermit – ‘Since they’ve been going out (Miss Piggy & Josh Groban), I’ve been waking up to the sound of my alarm instead of my own screams!’

For Fans Of: Family Guy, Sesame Street, Pixar

4. Game of Thrones


Where Are We: Season 5

What’s It  About: It’s mainly about writer George R. R. Martin allowing you to build up a relationship with the main characters before they are brutally murdered before your tear filled eyes.

Why It Is  Good: I personally think season 5 has been the weakest so far and that all the gratuitous death scenes and the constant ‘shocks’ have almost created a numbing effect whereby nothing is really shocking any more. That being said even at its worst Game of Thrones is still one of the best TV shows around at the moment and possibly ever.

The episode Hard Home in which the Night’s Watch battled with White Walkers was as good an hour of television as we saw anywhere in 2015.

Best Quote: ‘We’re not friends. We’ve never been friends, we won’t become friends today. This isn’t about friendship, this is about survival. This is about putting a seven-hundred foot wall between you and what’sout there.’

For Fans Of: Rome, Vikings, Band of Brothers

3. Silicon Valley


Where Are We: Season 2

What’s It About: Created by Mike Judge of Beavis and Butthead fame, Silicon Valley shows what happens when a relatively normal guy tries to navigate the uber trendy and progressive world of the Silicon Valley tech scene.

Imagine if The Big Bang Theory wasn’t absolutely fucking terrible, that gets you somewhere close to Silicon Valley.

Why It Is  Good: All the best comedies have a whole cast of funny and interesting characters not just the main 2 or 3 and Silicon Valley is packed full of weird and wonderful faces. Season 2 surprisingly only improved on season 1 and Silicon Valley has the potential to become HBO’s best comedy since Entourage.

Best Quote: ‘I don’t know about you people, but I don’t want to live in a world where someone else makes the world a better place better than we do.’

For Fans Of: Veep, South Park, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia

2. Better Call Saul


Where Are We: Season 1

What’s It About: A spin off from pop culture phenomenon Breaking Bad sees dodgy lawyer Saul Goodman come to the fore.

Why It Is Good: Better Call Saul is almost akin to a super hero origin story as we get a detailed look into what made Saul Goodman into the Lionel Hutz figure we know and love from Breaking Bad. The comedy comes thick and fast but Better Call Saul also has an undercurrent of sadness and frustration.

Best Quote: ‘Look, don’t let Mr. Ehrmantraut’s dancing eyes and bubbly, bon vivant personality fool you. He’s actually, believe it or not, somewhat taciturn. Shall I fan you gently, so you don’t go into shock?’

For Fans Of: Breaking Bad, Bored To Death, State of Play



Where Are We: Season 1

What’s It About: A cross between The Matrix, Fight Club and American Psycho.

Why is it good: Aside from Remi Malek and Christian Slater’s brilliant performances it is the jaw dropping script that has had the internet buzzing about Mr. Robot.

It does skirt a little too close to its influences for comfort at times but Mr. Robot has been this year’s most talked about show for a reason. It is ten beautifully crafted hours of television.

Best Quote: ‘You want to talk about reality? We haven’t lived in anything remotely close to it since the turn of the century. We turned it off, took out the batteries, snacked on a bag of GMOs while we tossed the remnants in the ever-expanding Dumpster of the human condition.’

For Fans Of: Life on Mars, True Detective, Black Mirror





Last year’s 12 days of Christmas films involved tears, tinsel and Tim Allen.

Just like last year I will be watching and reviewing 12 films in 12 days from the 12th of December up to the 23rd.

Here are the 12 Christmas films I will be watching for 2015:

1. A Very Murray Christmas
2. Surviving Christmas
3. Four Christmases
4. The Grinch That Stole Christmas (Remake)
5. The Snowman/Father Christmas
6. Polar Express
7. Die Hard 2
8. Star Wars Holiday Special
9. A Christmas Story
10. Gremlins
11. Miracle on 34th Street (original)
12. Nightmare Before Christmas


How To Train Your Dragon 2 – 7/10


How to make a solid sequel…


The first How To Train Your Dragon movie was not only a huge commercial success but also a hit with the critics as well (It currently sits at #150 in the IMDB top 250 films of all time after receiving two Oscar nominations).

When making a sequel however Dreamworks had every reason to be wary after rival studio Pixar put out the disappointing Cars 2 and the patchy Monsters University. Luckily Dreamworks made a number of solid decisions with How To Train Your Dragon 2. Keeping the original cast and director on board was important and bringing in Cate Blanchett and Kit ‘you know nothing’ Harrington didn’t hurt either. Secondly the decision to make this second instalment the second part of a trilogy gives director Dean DeBlois breathing space to expand the characters and the world that they
live in.


The main obstacle then in the face of cautious optimism was the general premise. Baring in mind the dragon training promised in the title was delivered in the first film, it was vitally important that the sequel was not a retread of the first story. This is mostly done successfully with the introduction of a couple of key characters as well as vital plot points ensuring that How To Train Your Dragon 2 is not just a stepping stone to the final film in the trilogy but an enjoyable spectacle in its own right.

Dreamworks will always be viewed as inferior to Pixar but they have still put out some of the most beloved animated films of all time and How To Train Your Dragon 2 sits nicely amongst the Kung Fu Panda, Shrek and Madagascar franchises.

Inside Out – 8.5/10


The best Pixar film in years shows us it’s ok to feel sad…


I am a long time admirer of Pixar and in my opinion the best six Pixar movies stand up with the Star Wars saga or the LOTR movies or anything else you want to name. Since the release of the brilliant Toy Story 3 however, I think Pixar has sometimes struggled to hit the heady heights of their previous work. There is nothing bad about Brave or even Cars 2 but neither of those films can stand up next to Wall E or Up. Inside Out however truly can.

Inside Out is a fairly simple but ingenious concept. Five emotions (Joy, Sadness, Fear, Anger and Disgust) are personified in the mind of 11 year old girl Riley and we are shown the inner mechanism that makes Riley tick.



Amy Poehler’s endless enthusiasm is perfect for Joy and Phyllis Smith (from the American Office) acts as a good counterweight as Sadness. As always with Pixar productions though it is the story itself that makes Inside Out such a triumph as well as the little details, and the all important fact that Inside Out never panders to their audience.

With Inside Out, Pixar have once again produced a film that isn’t a kids film or an adults film it is just great cinema with references to The Great Escape (1963) and Chinatown (1974) sitting nicely alongside a more contemporary nod to the Twilight Saga.

The only regret is that a truly phenomenal scene in which we see the inner workings of Riley’s parents is only explored marginally and unfortunately there are no plans for a sequel.

4 of the next 6 Pixar films are sequels so Inside Out might be the last bona fide classic the famous studio produces for a while. Don’t miss it.

Frank Turner @ Sheffield Academy


I first saw Frank Turner supporting The Gaslight Anthem at Nottingham Rock City back in March 2009. I had gone to see Gaslight but I left wowed by both Frank Turner’s songs and the incredible crowd reaction to Worse Things Happen At Sea and set closer The Ballad of Me and My Friends. From there I became a bit Frank obsessed buying both his albums and playing them to death. I became that guy who bores people at parties about an artist they have never heard of, insisting they listen to Photosynthesis or Reasons To Not Be An Idiot.


Fast forward a few years to 2012 and Frank is playing to thousands of people at Wembley Stadium. Whilst I still liked the stuff he was putting out his music didn’t feel like it was ‘mine’ any more. There is always a bit of a crisis of faith when your favourite underground act goes mainstream and I never really loved his music in the same way after that…

This brings us to November 19th 2015 and Frank Turner & The Sleeping Souls at Sheffield Academy. A mate had asked me if I fancied it and I hadn’t seen Frank live for a good few years so went for it. Frank and his band bounded on stage about 8:45 and went straight into the triumphant call to arms Eulogy before going into The Next Storm – for me the best song from latest album Positive Songs for Negative People. Breathless renditions of Try This At Home and Out of Breath were delivered at break neck speeds before the first big sing along of the night for The Road and Peggy Sang The Blues. As Frank let the crowd sing the closing refrain from The Road I remembered the slavish devotion that I had seen back at Nottingham Rock City in 2009.

It had been a strong start but there was a bit of a lull after that with Losing Days, new single Josephine and a rocked up version Long Live The Queen not really doing it for me. At this point the nagging disconnection from what Frank Turner has become once again hit home but the enthusiastic crowd still lapped it up.

The tide started to turn when The Sleeping Souls went for a break leaving Frank to perform uniformly brilliant solo acoustic versions of The Ballad of Me and My Friends, The Way I Tend To Be and St. Christopher Is Coming Home, the latter of which was dedicated to Nick Alexander who was killed in the Paris attacks.

Part of Frank Turner’s appeal is the fact he has always seemed different to other ‘rock stars’. As he himself so succinctly puts it ‘there’s no such thing as rock stars there’s just people who play music, and some of them are just like us and some of them are dicks’. Turner falls squarely into the former camp so when he starts talking about the Paris attacks and Nick Alexander it comes across as heartfelt and fucking relevant rather than preachy or contrived. No matter what you think of Frank Turner he fucking means it.

From there it was hit after hit. The Sleeping Souls returned for a victorious run through of Wessex Boy, Photosynthesis made the Sheffield crowd go fucking nuts and Glory Hallelujah came across much better live than it does on record.

I have seen Frank Turner six  times but the rendition of Reasons Not To Be An Idiot at Sheffield Academy is by far the best I have witnessed and again the audience goes bonkers with mass crowd surfing – Frank himself enters the crowd on numerous occasions. The hit parade is concluded with Recovery and Plain Sailing Weather before the band leave the stage before the encore.


One thing that is striking is that newer songs such as Mittens and the afore mentioned Plain Sailing Weather are met with the same level of devotion as anything off the first two albums with the crowd singing back every word to every song.

When Frank comes back out for the encore he talks about his friend Josh who tragically killed himself and it is moments like this along with bringing out a roadie to take the crowd through star jumps and pointing out the flag that has been passed between fans at every date on this tour that I realize that it doesn’t matter if Frank Turner’s music is ‘mine’ any more. Whether he is playing to 20 or 2000 Frank Turner embodies why music means so much to people and why whole communities are based around a few folks playing guitar and singing the blues.

The rest of the encore is almost akin to a religious experience with I Knew Prufrock…, I Still Believe and Four Simple Words all awe inspiring enough to be set closers for 99% of other bands out there.

While Four Simple Words is just such fucking fun it is I Still Believe that really sums the evening up…

‘Who’d have thought that after all, something as simple as rock ‘n’ roll would save us all’

Consider Sheffield Academy saved.