Tom Stade @ Doncaster Dome

‘What else is there to do in Doncaster on a Thursday night?’

It’s great going to see your favourite acts live and all but sometimes it is alluring to go in blind. I knew next to nothing about Canadian comedian Tom Stade before his show at the Dome but I can definitely say I am a convert now…
Before Stade took to the stage however, he treated us to a hilarious support act in the shape of fellow Canadian comedian Nigel Lawrence. The Santa Monica resident spent the first third of his act riffing on the ridiculously oversized stage in the middle of the cavernous Dome gymnasium, while also commenting on the fact that the venue had failed to provide him with a table for his beer, ‘I always find drinking a beer off the floor is the best way to drink a beer’ he sarcastically intoned. There was a wonderful moment part way through the set when a table was stealthily produced behind Lawrence resulting in a massive cheer from the crowd and an incredibly confused comic wondering why the audience had randomly started yelling in the middle of a bit. All in all Lawrence helped to set the tone for the evening, true pro’s on stage but adorably amateur off it.
Tom Stade waltzed out to rapturous applause only to find that there was no microphone in the microphone stand. As he correctly pointed out, this is really the only thing a comedian needs for his craft… bit of a fail then! Stade took the lack of organisation in good humour however and the minor failings of the Dome as a venue actually added to the show as a comedy spectacle. Stade has been a comic since 1989 and his gravelly voiced delivery recalls singer/song writer Tom Waits rather than any other comics. He combines his dulcet tones with a light and breezy persona. Imagine all the grime of Doug Stanhope without the anger or the politics. Indeed, I rolled my eyes at an early joke about Donald Trump, simply because making fun of Donald Trump is like shooting fish in a barrel (to paraphrase the Simpsons), but that one throw away comment was about as political as it got. Instead, the rest of the show was taken up with candid meditations on relationships, family and getting older. While this is well trodden ground in stand up comedy, Stade brings a personal touch that ensures the set is fresh and exciting throughout. Audience participation is constant but shared only between three members of the crowd who Tom constantly refers to. This lends the whole set a peculiar intimacy, a feeling of eavesdropping on a private conversation, and it is these interactions that lead to the funniest moments.
At one point Stade ruminates on the fact that he could afford a nice car ‘with all his sweet Doncaster money’ but he doesn’t because he is a boring old fuck. He laments the fact that technology has began to leave him behind and teases similar confessions out of the two middle aged men he has discovered in the audience. When one crowd member admits he doesn’t have Facebook, Stade asks ‘how do you send people pictures of your breakfast?’ before imagining said member of the audience emailing out pictures of sausages to his bewildered friends.
As Tom Stade leaves the stage in metaphorical tatters following a blistering set, he politely asks the sound guy to play a little music to see him off. A stony silence follows as chaos rules once again. In a way though, this is the perfect end to a shambolic but utterly mesmerising live performance. If you ever get the chance to see Stade live, and he does tour the UK extensively, then I urge you to do so.
Rob Johnson – www.robwatchesmovies.com

Placebo @ Doncaster Dome

“I know, you love the song but not the singer…”
There is a temptation when covering local music to just declare everything brilliant and be done with it. I mean, nobody wants to lose those sweet press passes after all. For me, this culminated in an overwhelmingly positive review for a decidedly average show from Sheffield band the Sherlocks and a feeling of soul destroying shame for having been such a sell out. After that abomination was published, I vowed to be more honest, as seen in this review of a bizarre day in the heart of Askern.
It is that spirit then, and not just plain grumpiness, that informs the start of this review. Let’s talk about all the things that were wrong with Placebo’s set before we get to the good stuff. First off, the band came out to a video celebrating their 20th year. This is all well and good except it had a backing track of ‘Every You Every Me’ which meant they didn’t actually play the song live during their set.
Everything from third album Black Market Music onward sounded thrilling but the limp performances of their earlier songs left an indelible stain on an otherwise brilliant night. While opener ‘Pure Morning’ sounded OK, we had a seven song wait for the band to play another song from their early career. ‘I Know’ is a blistering and visceral track on record but tonight it sounds turgid and uninspired with frontman Brian Molko constantly out of tune and disinterested. Even worse is a dire run through of a slowed down ’36 Degrees’. It is genuinely baffling that the band could take such an exciting song and turn it into this plodding and tedious mess and even crowd favourite ‘Nancy Boy’ feels rushed and aloof. Aside from a forgettable trudge through ‘Without You I’m Nothing’ that’s it for the first two albums.
Admittedly, I feel more affronted by this than I probably should. I lost interest in Placebo somewhere around the time of Sleeping With Ghosts and that is hardly the bands fault. That doesn’t excuse such a lazy butchering of their own back catalogue however. If they can’t be arsed to play those songs properly it would be better for them to drop them from the set completely.
With that out of the way, what of the rest of the night? The opening salvo of ‘Loud Like Love’ and ‘Jesus’ Son’ acts as a blistering template for the rest of the night with the band attacking their instruments to provide a more fleshed out live sound.
‘Special Needs’ takes a gawky song title and turns it into something beautiful before an incendiary rendition of set highlight ‘Twenty Years’. The latter is an example of just how impressive a live spectacle the band can provide when they put their mind to it.
Brian Molko and co bring out all the hits to end the first part of the evening with ‘Special K’ receiving possibly the biggest crowd response of the night before the unmistakable opening riff from ‘The Bitter End’ pierces the Doncaster air.
The band end their set with a show stopping performance of their beloved cover of the Kate Bush classic ‘Running up that Hill’. It’s weird that Placebo are such an excellent covers band when they have so little respect for their own back catalogue…
Overall, Placebo just about did enough to justify the ticket price but if the back slappery and self congratulation of local music is to be condemned, then it must also be censored in the mainstream. This was a good performance but one plagued with poor decision making and a lack of effort.
Rob Johnson – www.robwatchesmovies.com

Preview: Gigs coming up in Doncaster

This is not an exhaustive list (check out the excellent weekly Doncopolitan listings for that) but rather some of the major events taking place in Doncaster in the next couple of months or so.
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The Leopard
One of Doncaster’s more intimate venues has a couple of great gigs lined up, with Britpop mainstays Chris Helme and Hurricane #1 both gracing The Leopard before the year is out.
Chris Helme was the lead singer in the popular Britpop band the Seahorses and has released numerous albums under his own name. Helme rocks up to The Leopard on 7th October. You can grab tickets here.
Hurricane #1 are from a similar era and are perhaps best known for their smash hit ‘Only the Strongest Will Survive’. Another gig not to be missed. The gig takes place on 10th October and tickets are available here.
Diamond Live Lounge
Diamond have consistently booked interesting and critically acclaimed bands and they have a couple more big names due to appear in November.
The Hoosiers are celebrating the 10th anniversary of their number 1 album The Trick to Life. The record spawned hit singles such as ‘Worried About Ray’ and ‘Goodbye Mr A’ so their gig at Doncaster most beautiful venue promises to be a belter.
Goldie Lookin’ Chain have form in Doncaster having once memorably performed at Belle Vue, the much missed former home of Doncaster Rovers. The Welsh rappers will be joined by Doncaster legend MC Devvo on 17th November. Tickets here.
The Dome
Doncaster’s largest venue is always capable of attracting the big names and multi million selling rock band Placebo are as big as they come. The US rockers are gracing the Dome on 10th October. Click here for tickets.
Finally we have us NU-Metal band Crazytown bringing their brand of rap/rock to The Woolpack. It is a real coup for the market place pub to host a multi million selling artist in what promises to be an intriguing night. Tickets available here.

“Doncaster Needs You!” Appeal from new First World War Project

1914-1918 Project Needs YOU.
1914-1918 Project Needs YOU.

“Your borough needs you!” That’s the message from organisers of a new Doncaster-based project aiming to document the impact of the First World War on local people before memories are lost forever. From next week, everyone is invited to get involved in the action, as the four year “Doncaster 1914-18” project begins to uncover the past that shaped our future, with family events, touring displays, new exhibitions, education initiatives, a new interactive website, and even an archaeological dig.
“The First World War fundamentally changed lives and places, and the impact on the Doncaster borough is still clear today, with industry changing to support the war effort, family roles turned upside down as men and boys enlisted, and even landmarks changed,” explains Jude Holland, the Doncaster 1914-18 Project Manager. “Sadly, because it happened outside of our ‘living history’ we are slowly losing our connection to the people and places of our past, and forgetting that its legacy is still shaping our lives today. This is where we need help from people to re-build a picture of life across the borough during 1914-18. The First World War was a time when Doncaster’s people made a real difference, and so we need to find out about real people, who lived and worked on our streets, or fought far away from home.”
From Friday 22 May, next week’s half-term holiday events will put the spotlight on family life, with a chance to try out crafts, costumes and a range of hands-on activities, and will take place at venues including the Doncaster Dome, and Mexborough library. From then on – alongside a packed year-round programme of events and exhibitions that reveals many remarkable stories – people across Doncaster or anyone with a local connection are being encouraged to investigate and share family stories or memorabilia, or to volunteer in a range of exciting projects. A new interactive Doncaster 1914-18 website will also use innovative technology to reveal Doncaster’s wartime story, and allow people to share and research their own family stories, creating a new digital archive for future generations, and preserving this important part of our community.
Mayor of Doncaster, Ros Jones, said: “The Doncaster 1914-18 project is a valuable reminder of what our ancestors went through during the First World War, and the incredible sacrifices that are still being made today. It is vital that we remember those brave men and women who served their country so proudly, as we continue to support the Doncaster’s modern Armed Forces Community in the future”.
“Whether young or old, whatever your background or nationality – everyone in the Doncaster area will have a connection to the First World War,” adds Carolyn Dalton, Heritage Services Manager. “It was a time of tragedy and tension, with many sad stories – after all, 1000 Doncaster men lost their lives in the war. But it was also a time of industry and innovation, a testament to the power of the human spirit that provides inspiration and hope even today.” As a garrison town and industrial centre, Doncaster Borough played a significant role in World War One, and Doncaster 1914-18 will be exploring the frontline experiences of its soldiers – and especially the King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry; but also the home front through the lives of those left behind, making their own sacrifices and contributions to the war effort.
Fiona Spiers, Head of Heritage Lottery Fund Yorkshire and the Humber, said: “Spanning the same duration of the conflict and beyond Doncaster 1914-18 will provide an insight into subjects ranging from rationing and zeppelin raids to family memories and life in a battalion. “Doncastrians are at the heart of every step of this project – from unearthing memories at Scarborough Barracks to personally adding to the interactive digital legacy which will connect the community to their past.”
This year’s programme of events and exhibitions look back 100 years to 1915 and include:
· The ‘Great War on Tour’ roadshow will be travelling to a range of locations and events across the Doncaster area, including libraries, village halls, sports venues, fairs and carnivals. Those visiting the roadshow, can meet the 1914-18 Project team to share their own stories, bring along First World War photographs and memorabilia to be added to a new online archive, or try wartime costumes, crafts and other hands-on family activities. During half-term the Great War on Tour will be at Mexborough Library on 26 May, Doncaster Dome on 27 May and the Cantley Park Carnival on Saturday 30 May.
· ‘Doncaster at War’ a travelling exhibition, which will be updated annually with stories of the contribution Doncaster people played in the war, will visit libraries and community venues across the borough, including Mexborough Library until 28 May.
· Opportunities to investigate the astonishing achievement of local volunteer, Wyn Bulmer, who has painstakingly collected reports of all servicemen in the local newspapers during the First World War, and created an index for local people to use in carrying out their own research. The index records those killed, missing, wounded, taken prisoner of war and awarded medals for bravery.
· A new exhibition, ‘A Call to Arms!: The King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry at War 1914-15’ at Doncaster Museum and Art Gallery uses personal testimonies and original objects to chart the life of Doncaster men, and those from the West Riding of Yorkshire, in the army, from outbreak to stalemate in the trenches.
· Doncaster 1914-18 website, a digital resource which features a full programme of events for everyone to join in, including Homefront family activities, to a summer live archaeology dig! It will also use cutting-edge technology, to become an interactive archive where Doncaster’s people can share their stories but also investigate their own history. The website will launch in September 2015. Local residents can also share stories, images or ideas via Twitter or Facebook.
Generously supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund during the four-year project with a grant of £926,700, Doncaster 1914-18 will feature an ever-changing programme of events and exhibitions, with future years uncovering the diverse experiences of Doncaster people on the Home Front, including women’s experiences of war, Doncaster’s role in the Battle of the Somme, Doncaster’s Royal Flying Corps and Airfield, the role of the local countryside and country houses, and Armistice.
To find out more about getting involved in Doncaster 1914-18, including events and exhibitions, visit www.doncaster1914-18.com.