October Culture Corner
CULTURE SPECIAL: DARRYL W. BULLOCK
Author and Q&C culture writer Darryl W. Bullock gives us his cultural highlights for the month ahead, including the long awaited film release about a music legend, a celebrated stage return of a world-renowned chanteuse, an 80's synth-pop band's unlikely comeback and a new provocative gay memoir.
With the nights drawing in and temperatures dropping, what could be better than tossing another log on the fire, pouring yourself a glass of port and curling up with a good book? Available both in print and via Audible – so you need not tire yourself with the chore of having to turn pages - award-winning broadcaster and journalist Mark Dowd’s new book Queer and Catholic: A Life of Contradiction is a superb memoir of a gay, working class boy from Manchester discovering how to reconcile his sexuality with his commitment to his faith.
The book spans the last 50 years and chronicles the changing attitude to same-sex attraction. With the audiobook narrated by Mark himself, Queer and Catholic is packed with funny, deeply moving and spiritually insightful stories from his own experience coming out to his parents through to his training to become a Dominican priest before eloping from the order with an ex-friar. Queer and Catholic is available from bookshops and online stores now.
Remember 80's hitmakers Blancmange? Well, since they resurfaced in 2011 after a 25-year hiatus with the superb Blanc Burn life has been rather busy. Four albums have appeared in that time under the Blancmange banner (now just singer/songwriter Neil Arthur and assorted friends after partner Stephen Luscombe retired through ill health), with a fifth, First Light, from Arthur’s other project Fader issued just months ago. Now comes Unfurnished Rooms, easily the act's most accomplished release since Blanc Burn. A fine collection of songs destined to become synth-pop standards, the album closes with the eight-minute epic ‘Don’t Get Me Wrong’, featuring long-time fan John Grant on piano and backing vocals. For me, a huge fan of both Blancmange and Grant, this is heaven.
The weather may be turning a tad inclement, but if you do fancy donning your favourite tweed jacket and venturing out, then there are a couple of events this month that none of you should miss.
German chanteuse Ute Lemper is in the UK, and I for one shall be front and centre at St Georges’ in Bristol when the singer takes to the stage on October 19, as part of her ‘Last Tango in Berlin’ tour. Subtitled ‘The Best of Ute Lemper’, the show promises huge dollops of Weimar-era cabaret songs (hopefully including her spectacular rendition of ‘Das Lila Lied’, the infamous 1920s composition which was probably the first ‘pop’ song to openly celebrate homosexuality) as well as other highlights from a career spanning more than three decades. The tour coincides with the release of her latest album, The 9 Secrets. Something of a departure for her, The 9 Secrets is a brand new song cycle based on Brazilian author Paulo Coelho's novel Manuscript Found in Accra, accompanied by Ute’s own piano compositions.
If you can’t make the Bristol show, Ute is also appearing in Manchester, Edinburgh and Gateshead later in the month, and in Snape Bridge Suffolk in November. Tickets available from www.ents24.com/uk/tour-dates/ute-lemper
Finally, larger-than-life singer and actress Grace Jones hits the big screen at the end of the month in the documentary Bloodlight and Bami. Showing for a limited time only (although a DVD/Blu-ray is bound to follow in time for Christmas) Bloodlight and Bami re-invents the music film as an electrifying journey through the performance, private and public worlds of the wild, scary and androgynous cultural icon. Director Sophie Fiennes (The Pervert’s Guide to Cinema) contrasts breath-taking musical sequences with intimate personal footage, ultimately reaching beyond the public mask of this global superstar. The title? In Jamaican patois, ‘Bloodlight’ is the red light that illuminates when an artist is recording and ‘Bami’ means bread, the substance of daily life.
Bloodlight and Bami is in cinemas nationwide from October 27.