Pumpkins @Koko: Alt Rock’s Grandest Act Returns

Fan: “You play guitar really well!” Billy: “I was better when I was younger… but thank you.” He’d probably know lot better than us, but if the ravages of age are catching up with Billy Corgan, it wasn’t particularly obvious last Friday night. Springing on to the stage with his new touring line up, the singer-songwriter was tight, on form and apparently happy. We got playful Pumpkins… and my word we enjoyed them. … [Read more...]

Louis: A Love Story

“Louis, I’m back,” Simon called softly, opening the brown paper bag, removing three newspaper wrapped items and placing them reverently on the envelope-strewn butchers block. Lifting a plastic carrier bag onto the knife-scored surface he set down Champagne, raspberries and a stiff white cardboard cake box. Outside it was sticky hot, but down here was much cooler, the August sun barely penetrating the high unwashed lace of the basement window. Beyond the dull glass, seagulls cawed and cartwheeled over the English coastline, pestering genteel day trippers for their vinegar soaked chips. Inside, the empty kitchen was still and silent. … [Read more...]

Last Night in Benidorm

It was 6.30pm. The sky was still bright blue and the terrace of the Queens Hotel still bathed in neon sunshine. With chairs curving together and chunky calves brushing, Martyn and Diane gazed across the hotel skyscrapers towards the dazzlingly clear Mediterranean Sea. “Once more with feeling…” said Diane lifting her cocktail, putting the straw to her lips and taking a lovely long slurp. … [Read more...]

A Thai Farm Girl & The Man from Hemel Hempstead

Peering out from the corner of the stage, Padchai surveyed the clientele. Mainly western, over 60, and all looking decidedly grabby. No matter how many times she saw it, there was always something eerily creepy about this many old men in brilliant white vests and multicoloured trainers. As the music switched from a fast paced beat to a slow bluesy rhythm, Padchai hunkered down into a small wicker chair just out of the crowd’s view. … [Read more...]

Interactive Digital Theatre: Live Like a Refugee

“We worked in collaboration with a number of refugee groups, initially in Cardiff and subsequently in Newport too,” John McGrath, Artistic Director of the National Theatre of Wales told Searchlight Magazine Arts. “[The show Director] formed strong links with some of these refugees, and one of the very first people he talked with – Fissha – has stayed with the show and become one of the professional actors in it.” … [Read more...]

Morrissey @O2: A Poignant Farewell to the Fans?

“All I ask, is remember me and forget my fate,” intoned Morrissey as he emerged on stage for his encore at the packed O2 Arena in London last night. This quote from “Dido’s Lament”, a staple of funerals seems poignant in the light of the star’s recent cancer treatment, especially as he immediately launched into a rare rendition of “Asleep”. “There is another world, there is a better world. Well, there must be…” … [Read more...]

The Room: Art Against the American Dream

“Bullshit! This is fucking bullshit!” he yelled, slurping from a Coke can and stomping up and down the line. “Front row. Front row. But no.” He rhymed aggressively. No response – unable to find anyone to engage with his mad ranting, the bonkers chap joined the queue directly behind us and continued his loud conversation with himself. We had all just been kicked out of the Prince Charles Cinema bar and told to go line up outside in Leicester Square. We felt like naughty school children. This made Coke can man, who had been queuing up in completely the wrong place, pretty angry. Normally, one would want to keep such oddball behaviour at arm’s length, but as we were here for a book reading, we felt reasonably safe. … [Read more...]

Mental Health & the Arts: Overcoming a Double Stigma

It is a widely established fact that the arts can help with a variety of mental health problems… it is also the case that both mental health issues and arts as therapy are still heavily derided throughout our society. In this series for Searchlight Arts, we take a look at some of the people working on the front line of arts therapy, as well as those who have experienced it in action. … [Read more...]

Birmingham: Forgotten Arts City?

In London-centric Britain most cities get mocked, derided or just plain forgotten. And poor old Birmingham manages to suffer from all three. Yet it is the second largest city in the country with an incredibly young, multicultural population and perhaps surprisingly to those not in the know, a blossoming arts scene. As part of our series on living arts on the ground, Searchlight Arts investigate some of the initiatives taking place… and how they are impacting the next generation of Brummies. … [Read more...]

The Party That’s Never Won: The Party Anthem

Episode 4:   Song: Say No Say no, say no No immigration, border is closed No, me say no, me say no, me say no, me say no, me say no-o No immigration, border is closed   No more soft touch from Great Britain No immigration, border is closed We’ll send you back to your Calais slums No immigration, border is closed   … [Read more...]