RIP Anita Pallenberg

This week saw the death of the ultimate rock chick. Anita Pallenberg, famously the lover of both Brian Jones and Keith Richard (and possibly Mick Jagger) died at the relatively early age of 73. But boy, had she packed some life into those 73 years, both as a model, an actress and a fashion muse whose style we see every festival season.

Anita was a German born model who took Swinging London by storm in the mid 60s. Her relationship with Brian Jones was turbulent and violent, but she also introduced him to culture and the arts, but after a particularly bad night which saw Brian beat Anita, she fled with Keith Richard, starting a relationship which lasted 12 years.  She starred in the film Barberella with Jane Fonda, and also Performance, where she allegedly had sex with Jagger on Camera in front of both Richard and Marianne Faithful – her close friend and the girlfriend of Jagger.

Anita was considered wild and dangerous – did she really practice black magic arts? She certainly did enough drugs to kill a normal person, and eventually it was the drugs that killed her relationship with Keith, especially when a teenage boy died in her hotel room. The 1980s were not a good time for the one time rock goddess, but she emerged in later years to continue her role as a fashion and acting muse.

Anita was beautiful, stylish and exuded cool in her rock chick style. Acres of scarves, mannish waitcoats, drainpipe jeans, furry gillets, floppy, foppish hats, gold lame worn in a slightly decadent and dishevelled style, Anita carried it all off with aplomb. She inspired her friend Marianne to cast off her slightly twee look, and between them they become the cool face of London, not dolly birds, but true fashion inspirations that we still look too 50 years on. It was boho, it was luxe, it was rock and roll. It cemented her place as a icon of fashion and music.

RIP Anita, the World will be a duller place without your sparkle.

More Anita Style

Imelda May at Birmingham Symphony Hall

She has the most incredible voice, which is capable of singing anything, from blues tinged numbers, Nashville inspired melodies to belting grunge style rock numbers, and last night Imelda May wowed Birmingham once again with a combination of her brilliant song book and a self deprecating sense of humour that explained the stories behind the songs in brilliant style.

Starting her set in torch singer style with the bluesy ‘Call Me’ and then continuing with ‘When it’s my time’, Imelda showed that her style has moved on from the rockabilly essence of her earlier albums. Now it seems like she has been listening to a lot of Janis Joplin and Bessie Smith and this is no bad thing, her gutsy, powerful voice is totally suited to belting out songs about passion and the wrong men, and songs like ‘How bad can a good girl be’ and ‘sixth sense’ show that no-one can sing a song about lust like Imelda can.

But there is so much more to her cannon than just songs about lust. She had the female side of the audience firmly on her side as she explained the story behind ‘human’, how she was fed up with songs asking women to be my baby, my darling, my princess, my angel and how she just wanted to be your human. ‘Big Bad handsome Man’ got the crowd dancing, whilst current hit ‘Should’ve been You’ – my current favourite song of the year, just had the crowd singing along as they held on to her every word.

The beautiful Symphony Hall is a majestic building, and Imelda did worry that it might stop people from dancing and standing up. She proclaimed that the people on the stage were the ‘roughest people in the house’ and that people should get up if they felt like it. It worked, with some of the audience heading into the aisles to dance, much to May’s delight.

The show had moments of real emotion, with the beautiful ‘Black Tears’ a real weepy and a definite highlight. But it was the story behind ‘Love and Fear’, which had its roots in losing friends in the Bataclan shooting that was a real moment, with May close to tears before performing the song to storming effect. In light of what was happening in Manchester at the same time it takes on an additional, tragic poignancy.

Ending with two songs that highlight her versatility, a raucous version of ‘Johnny Got a Boom Boom’ and the beautiful acoustic ‘The girl I used to be’, Imelda May showed why she is one of the most talented and revered artists in music at the moment. Definitely one to cherish.

 

Thriller Live Reviewed at the Wolverhampton Grand

Thriller Live opened at the Wolverhampton Grand this week and last night I went along to review it. This celebration of the music and life of Michael Jackson is a glitzy, energetic affair performed with aplomb by the company, but I have to say I think you really need to be a massive fan of all things Michael Jackson to get the very best enjoyment from it.

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My own feelings on Michael are a little bit mixed. He was an incredible performer, and with ‘Off the Wall’ and ‘Thriller’ he created two of the greatest albums of all time. I also love the Motown and Epic years of the 1970s, with wonderful life affirming songs like ‘I Want You Back’ and ‘Blame it on the Boogie’. But, post Thriller, I struggle with some of the music, although songs like ‘Smooth Criminal’ and ‘I just can’t stop loving you’ showed he could still produce a killer pop song at times. But generally the music became overblown, and preachy as his own persona became stranger and stranger.

‘Thriller Live’ is not really what it says on the packet. It is not the songs of Thriller performed live. Nor is it a sort of Michael Jackson in concert show. Instead it could be described as a Michael Jackson variety show, with a mixture of songs, dances and narration sort of telling the story of Michael Jackson and his music. It has lasers and lights, and, at times it reminded me of ‘The X Factor’ with those signs saying how many millions of albums sold and Grammy’s won – I found myself waiting for the voice over and the Omen music. It is slick and very showbiz and the audience lapped it up.

The first half is definitely the best half, as most of Jackson’s favourite classic songs are included. A mini Michael Jackson on a big screen singing ABC is a cute touch, and the disco classics sound brilliant.  You are reminded just how many brilliant songs were in the Jackson cannon, and recreating the stage as a 1970s disco, complete with the biggest disco ball in the world and the ladies toilets is a great, fun touch.The vocals from Shaquille Hemmans, Rory Taylor, Sean Christopher, Victoria Pasion and Britt Quentin are all uniformly good and passionate – they harmonise really well together and the vocals are well shared, even if, at times, they are slightly over-egged to the point of cheesiness. A key point is the performance by Rory of ‘She’s out of my life’. A truly beautiful song performed with a stunning vocal performance, but the fact that Rory seemed like he was going to cry and almost couldn’t continue at one point, I was almost in tears…tears of laughter. It’s so not needed when the vocals are so good.

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The second half starts so well with a great energetic ‘Beat it’ and ‘PYT’, along with a genuinely stunning ‘Smooth Criminal/Dirty Diana’, but then it descends into Michael Jackson – The Rubbish Years. We get the horrible ‘Man in the Mirror’ which made me glad inside smoking was banned – you can almost sense hundreds of lighters held aloft, and then the preachy creepiness of ‘Earth Song’ – by the end of that one I was hoping for a Jarvis Cocker moment just to lighten the mood slightly.

Thankfully, the wonderful encore pulled it all back to the brilliance of Jacko, with Sean Christopher showcasing his incredible dance moves on ‘Billie Jean’ and ‘Thriller’. And the staging of ‘Thriller’ was incredible, all those zombie dance moves that you know and love performed with exhilarating energy and talent. This was what I had been waiting for – a real tribute to a talent that was gone to soon, but had been wasted for a long time before that.

Thriller Live is an entertaining experience, but one that I think you need to be a huge Michael Jackson fan to truly enjoy and appreciate.

 

WED 22 FEB – SAT 25 FEB

THRILLER LIVE

Click here for ticket information.