Going Through Hell is Mike Skinner’s first single from his last album as The Streets. It’s an oddly poetic title that has a lot of resonances, including echoes of the Greek myth Orpheus when our titular hero walked through hell to return his wife, Eurydice, to the Land of the Living. It wouldn’t surprise me if this was completely intentional, Mike Skinner strikes me as a smart guy. The image of a Greek hero is also apt, an all-conquering hero after many trials and tests returning home but finding this his hardest test yet is an old rote. It was, after all and as he kept reminding us the last time he would be performing in his home city. And I don’t use the word ‘hero’ lightly. The gig tonight was a story of someone facing adversity, and overcoming it with aplomb. The adversity being the crowd. …

Skinner in the Underworld Read more »

Tagged with: , ,

Last year Birmingham City Council  held a Christmas lights ceremony that ended in what most called a ‘fiasco’. Our crap Altamont was down to nobody guessing that one of the biggest bands of the moment giving a free concert would be popular. This year instead of a big fuss there will be a Christmas parade. In November. One month and ten days before Christmas, reindeer and whatnot will be kicking off our celebrations. With no pretence at trying to encompass other celebrations to draw out the shopping season, at least with ‘Winterval’ they were trying. Its an old rote that Christmas starts earlier and earlier each year but five weeks before Christmas is bordering on silly, seeing as most men are still be scurrying around in the dark on Christmas eve wondering if a bottle of screen wash is a suitable present for a ten year old. Granted, …

Winterval starts here Read more »

Tagged with: , , , ,

So I spoke to the Editor* about what to write about this week and he gave me this, probably to wind me up, which suggests that ten people are responsible for most of the graffiti in Brum. I knew my feelings on graff have been documented ad nauseum in other places. Also I find the weary ‘is it art?’ argument nonsensical and unhelpful and am at loathe to drag it out one more time. So, for once, I thought it would be good to give someone active in that world a chance to reply. The guy I spoke to didn’t want to be named so I haven’t. What do you think of the thought that there only ten people responsible for the graffiti in Birmingham? I doubt the council see it like this to be honest, I can imagine they have a wanted list a lot longer. …

Tag nuts Read more »

Tagged with: , , , ,

I was watching and saying manly things when Birmingham City almost beat Man Utd on Saturday, but first, a story; When I was younger I was deemed shy and somewhat bookish, if you would have asked me at the time I probably would have more described myself as “mysterious” or “a lone wolf” proving not only was I a bit socially awkward, but also a bit of a tool. The cure for this, my matriarchal Nan decided, was to get a job in a pub as soon as I was old enough. The pub was, and by all accounts still is, quite rough. When I arrived for my first shift the manager, a lurching ex-police officer, took me to one side and explained that the pub was mainly a Zulu* pub and if there was any trouble I should just go get him, referring to a group …

Blues and me Read more »

Tagged with: , ,

In the slow news week between Christmas and New Years the BBC decided that it would be newsworthy to point out how shit Wolverhampton was. My first reaction was ‘have these people never been to Coventry?’ I mean our sister site, Wolverhampton: it doesn’t suck dog shit from the treads of a zombie’s hush puppies probably wont mind me saying that Wolvo is a bland wasteland of chain shops, a middlingly terrible football team with England’s most soulless and dispiriting ground and only a decent sized music venue to redeem it. But compared to the seventh ring of concrete hell that is Coventry, Wolverhampton is a mythical Shangri-La where lemonade runs from the taps and tramps vomit rainbows. Its also not the first time Lonely Planet has had a pop at Wolverhampton or the Midlands in general. It seems we are the Lonely Planet’s go-to guys if …

Backstabbers Guide to Wolverhampton Read more »

Tagged with: , , , ,

I want to talk about Birmingham’s bid for Britain’s City of Culture. Now this shouldn’t be confused for the European City of Culture bid, which if won brings money, tourists and actual prestige, That’s going to the South Hampshire region in 2022 which by then, if Internet idiots are to be believed, we will all be destroyed by an alignment of planets as predicted by the Mayans*. No this is the British city of culture, a knock off basically. So if Birmingham is successful what would we actually win? Well, potentially holding the Brit awards and the Turner prize, although not even that is not definite. And I’m not sure how this would be that even be beneficial. Do we want the Turner prize? Recently it’s turned into an attention grabbing oddity choosing deliberately challenging pieces for the sole reason of angering Sun readers and inciting headlines. …

Big City Culture Read more »

Tagged with: , , , ,

Mr Egg is closed, and it seems only partly related to undiluted catering vinegar thrown into drunk peoples eyes. But be it through mad chefs or vermin in the cupboards, I’m not surprised it has happened; I’m surprised it took so long. Mr Egg is a Birmingham institution (and not just because there’s a rat in the kitchen), it’s something rare in Birmingham — independent. It’s  a lot like the sixties, if you can remember it you were never there, god knows no sane person would eat there sober. If pushed I can remember the giant cloth egg on the ceiling and the overpowering smell of grease. Just walking past has always a barometer of the current economic climate ‘EAT LIKE A KING FOR 50p’ declared the sign, and then in my teenage years ‘EAT LIKE A KING FOR £1’, a little later when the gay community …

Danny Smith: Is Mr Egg beaten? Read more »

Tagged with: ,

For those of you whose memory has been damaged by brolly spokes entering your ear waiting for some lights to be switched on, Winterval was the blanket catch all name for a series of council ran events that included Eid, Christmas and New Year. That turned, with the help of some lazy journalism and right wing knee jerking, into BIRMINGHAM BANS CHRISTMAS. No doubt someone will bring this story out of the loft again this year, blow the dust off and string it about, Christ it been going since ’98, it’s almost a tradition. Do you remember it now? When Birmingham became a laughing stock because we had chosen to be inclusive and tolerant? Pah! Who would want that? Certainly not the church, when the Winterval shit storm was kicking off the shit was so deep that young children were sledding down hills on it while their …

Danny Smith: Merry Winterval Read more »

Tagged with: , , , , ,

Danny Smith was writing lots of guides to Brum for the Itchy guide, last year. It never happened, so we present his guide to the past in a number of parts (see all the parts): Devils Kitchen Hurst Street, outside the Nightingale It’s not so much an actual kitchen as a burger van in the gay quarter of town, but “the devils mobile catering unit” hasn’t really got the same ring. It’s not especially cheap, and the staff are not especially friendly and the choice isn’t what you would call expansive but the portions are large, the food is good and let’s face it if your buying food from a burger van your taste buds have probably been drowned in raw vodka and are now dead anyway. 10pm – 3am Double burger with cheese £3.00 Sunday Car Boot Sale Wholesale Markets Precinct Pershore Street (0121) 303 0300 …

Danny Smith’s Guide to 2008 Pt11 Read more »

Tagged with: , ,

Danny Smith was writing lots of guides to Brum for the Itchy guide, last year. It never happened, so we present his guide to the past in a number of parts (see all the parts): Q Club 212 Corporation St Birmingham B4 6QB Tel: 0121 212 1212 With a cavernous main room and labyrinthine corridors that turn even the most mundane club night into a drug fuelled weird fairytale adventure this has to be one of the most surreal clubbing experiences in Birmingham. There can be anything up to 10 rooms and 6 bars open at once which means that there is always something to discover and you will lose your friends in seconds flat. The venue has everything from kickboxing matches to Cream, art exhibitions to Dancehall soundsystems so you really don’t have an excuse for not going. www.queclub.co.uk for details Baguette Du Monde Various locations …

Danny Smith’s Guide to 2008 Pt10 Read more »

Tagged with: , ,