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Thursday, 15 June 2017

Going out #6 with The Mummy and [SPUNGE]

The Mummy

As an aficionado of the Universal horror films of old I don’t have any qualms in saying that the first two modern day instalments didn’t impress.
They didn’t offend either, but there was admittedly little to get excited about.
It was definitely frustrating that after each outing the studio went back to the drawing board as they very obviously had little faith in their vision of the relaunch and preferred to let the box office decide on the direction they would take.
Personally I would have been happy to hang in there after The Wolfman to see how Guillermo del Toro got on with a classic take on Frankenstein, but it wasn’t to be, and then again after Dracula Untold I would have accepted the change in direction and committed myself to seeing how they moved on from that one, but again Universal were unhappy with the reception and it all started to feel like it was always going to be one step forward and two steps back for the franchise.
And now here we are with the studio hoping that the Tom Cruise led version of The Mummy will be third time a charm.
And you know what?
It is.
Or to be more precise it is in my opinion because I loved it.
From start to finish I was completely on board with it all.
In fact I loved it so much that I’m struggling to understand what the problem is that other people have with this one.
Everyone is great in it, the pace is kept up throughout, the effects are all impressive enough, and I’m not getting the comments about it being fragmented at all.
Do you ever watch a movie and think you have seen a different one from everyone else?
That’s me with The Mummy.
Okay it’s not reverential to the root material, but there’s plenty of little scenes that do cast an eye, if not a wink, back to those movies, and the glimpses of vampire skulls, what looked like a limb from the Creature from the Black Lagoon, and a mention of Gods and Monsters that I hope was a reference to the 1998 movie about James Whale, was for me a nice touch.
Those who have been less than impressed are of course entitled to voice their take on it, but each to their own.
We will have to agree to disagree about this one.
A big stumbling block right now is that in the first week of it opening it hasn’t managed to capture the attention of US audiences, and the naysayers are already out with their pitchforks and flaming torches ready to bring down the Dark Universe, but as it has done okay elsewhere with the studio recouping what was invested in it I will be crossing my fingers and hoping that the next instalment is now being green lighted because Angelina Jolie in The Bride of Frankenstein’s sounds pretty cool to me.
Hopefully people will make their own minds up about this and it doesn’t slip through the cracks as Van Helsing, League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and Hansel and Gretel; Witch Hunters did.
All pretty much considered cult classics now, but none of them spawned any sequels as they so richly deserved to due to their box office failings.
So I guess it is just down to saying don’t blink Universal, just don’t you blink.

Have faith and let’s see what you can do.  

[SPUNGE]. Bad Impression, Strung Out Nights. 14/06/17 - Ivory Blacks (Glasgow)

With Strung Out Nights looking to hone a set to perfection in preparation for appearing at this years Rebellion festival the opening slot for [SPUNGE] was the ideal opportunity to do exactly that.
Within the Glasgow punk scene it is becoming increasingly obvious that this is the act to watch out for as credible opening slot after opening slot opens up before him.
He is out there as a solitary figure.
One man, one guitar, giving hope in the face of concerns that the scene is stagnating and struggling to find new blood that can carry the music across to yet another generation.
Rooted in the sound of the Clash he filters his self penned material through the prism of the US punk acts from the Dead Kennedys to NOFX and it is so seamlessly done that you can't hear any sort of clunky gear changes in his delivery.
Politically astute, fearless in speaking out, and still maintaining an ability to entertain he is now at the cusp of stepping from one rung of the ladder to ascend to the next.
If you are unaware of who Strung Out Nights is and call yourself a punk then you need to ensure that you deal with that sooner rather than later.
Don't be the punk that misses the bus here.

Bad Impression who followed are racking up plenty of plus points too.
As the name would indicate they are a covers band, but in covering others they are looking to hit a spot between Tragedy; The heavy metal tribute to the Bee Gees, and Me First and the Gimme Gimmes.
And when it works it works very well, but behind the laughs, audience participation and the sharing of confectionary the set at times does stumble about a bit.
Some of the songs that they redefine are perfect in their execution, while others swoop and dive between working and not. 
Lady GaGas Pokerface is as a good an example as any.
In parts it is well thought out and draws a good reaction from the audience, but there are points when the guitars and shared vocals descend into chaos, and not the good kind.
It's not something that the band, or anyone else for that matter, should be concerned about at this point in their playing career.
Every day is a school day as they say and with each performance I fully expect that the rougher edges will be smoothed off leading to Bad Impression jumping from delivering a good night out to one that people elevate to being called an essential night out for a crowd looking for shits and giggles.

[SPUNGE] have so many years under their belts now that they can put on a sterling show on auto pilot.
It comes with being road tested to the max, but settling in on cruise control doesn't appear to be in their DNA.
Instead it's full on from start to finish and as the years do pass they are edging closer to defining what the UK's ska-pop punk sound is.
As their homegrown peers fall by the wayside they are out there at the front waving the flag and refusing to lay down and die in the face of changing trends and fashions.
Some could argue that it is foolhardy, but not me.
There's something heroic about what they are doing. The never say die attitude is laudable.
Going out there night after night to give everything you have to entertain people is something that can't be knocked.
And when considering it in the light of being entertaining then they aren't being delusional about this either because they obviously fundamentally understand that there is no point in stepping up on a stage unless you are going to send an audience home satisfied. 
The best part of it all is that they look as if they are still having fun doing it too.
Mates together having a laugh and bringing you into the circle to have a laugh with them.
You can't bottle that, there's no formula, a band has it or they don't, and [SPUNGE} have it.
Bloody well long live [SPUNGE] and all the other carriers of torches. 

GENERAL UPDATE: The forthcoming EDEN FESTIVAL review that will feature. Gogol Bordello, The Stumblers, Rory Mcleod, Mickey 9s, Jamie and Shoony, Chibmarks, Colonel Mustard and the Dijon 5 plus more will appear on the New Hellfire Club website.
Links will be provided when that goes live.

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