Friday, 26 November 2010

Reopening the Fruit Cellar

Blu Review: EVIL DEAD II
15 – 84mins – 1987
Written by: Sam Raimi and Scott Spiegel
Directed by: Sam Raimi
Starring: Bruce Campbell, Sarah Berry, Dan Hicks, Kassie Wesley, Richard Domeier, Denise Bixler, John Peakes, Lou Hancock


A successful sequel is supposed to take what made the original film so popular and expand upon it to give the audience a fresh-but-familiar story in a universe they adore: bigger, badder and more extreme. By this logic, Sam Raimi's Evil Dead II should be a perfect follow up to his 1981 video nasty (reviewed HERE): bigger budget, badder demons, more extreme loonacy. And yet... *big sigh* I felt like I was watching a more hyperactive retread of The Evil Dead with very little innovation to warrant a return visit to the cabin in the woods.

From the very beginning things didn't sit well with me: the re-shot scenes from survivor Ash's (Bruce Campbell) first night from hell criminally watered down the original story, exorcised two of the main characters, significantly altered plot details and generally had me questioning why it was all necessary (a rights issue with the footage, I have since learnt). Not that it really mattered, however, as I was about to see it all again anyway...

From deadites trapped in the fruit cellar, to reanimated stop-motion corpses, floods of blood, chainsaw mutilations and female-stalking tree vines: everything which made The Evil Dead so horrific, so controversial and so iconic was shamelessly recycled in Part II – but with added lashings of crazy humour!!

So we are “treated” to a headless rotting corpse doing an erotic dance, Ash – his hand possessed and acting independently from his body – repeatedly walloping himself over the head with the china crockery (what is this, Laurel and friggin' Hardy?!!) and a room full of inanimate objects – lamps, books, chairs, Moose's heads – springing to life to cackle maniacally at our unhinged everyman.

The only time I genuinely raised a smile was at the use of Hemingway's novel A Farewell To Arms to weigh down the bucket which was trapping Ash's now severed five digit limb. At last: an original idea! But even as Ash was joined by Kandarian demon researcher (and daughter to the cabin owner) Annie (Sarah Berry) and three future corpses, Evil Dead II still didn't elaborate effectively. Prime example: Bobbie Joe (Kassie Wesley) is abducted by branches, dragged away to her doom, but even when the team reluctantly go looking for her she doesn't return as a deadite!

To Raimi and co-writer Scott Spiegel's credit, the finale did diverge from predictability and step things up: the living woodland turns on the cabin as Annie desperately recants a verse from the Book of the Dead which will open a portal to suck the demons into another realm – only for Ash to be pulled through too! But when the highest praise you can level at a film is “it set up a sequel splendidly” then you know you've been let down by everything that came before the epilogue.

In a CR@B Shell: More demonic mad-cappery in the worst possible taste from Raimi's twisted cranium, but I just found everything less fresh and thrilling second time around. At least Army of Darkness looks like a different beast entirely.

Smells Like School Spirit

15 – 87mins – 2009
Written by: Stephen Prentice
Directed by: Jon Wright
Starring: Tuppence Middleton, Alex Pettyfer, April Pearson, Dimitri Leonidas, Georgia King, Larissa Wilson, Olly Alexander, James Floyd, Calvin Dean


The age old morality tale of the underdog triumphing over the dominant alpha clique is given a supernatural makeover for the noughties teen market in this high school Brit horror-com. Thus, Tormented stars a raft of former Skins starlets in short skirts, an abundance of bad language, witty banter, sex, booze, blood and gore, as overweight loner Darren “Shrek” Mullet (Calvin Dean) is pushed to the brink of depression following years of bullying, and commits suicide.

Questionable subject for a comedy, you may think, and I certainly agree. There are times when the devastating enormity of the all-too-real situation – particularly when we watch mobile phone footage of his savage victimisation at the hands of the school's “cool kids” – does offset the sarcastic tone which underlies the slapstick horror, but it's hard to hold on to your principals when Mullet's reanimated corpse starts to exact revenge upon his tormentors in a number of fiendishly outlandish ways.

But as gore-iously inventive as they are, there's no real satirical slant to any of the murders, which does mean that things become a little repetitive as the runtime progresses: Death, panic, death, panic, death... etcetera. And as hurtful as their teasing was, whether the band of peer pressured adolescents *quite* deserve the fatal comeuppance they receive (does one wrong turn deserve another?) dissolves into a moot point as the body count spirals out of control and even Mullet's only friend falls foul of the hell bent zombie.

The film's moral commentary is further muddied when Darren's secret crush, cute-and-proper Head Girl Justine (Tuppence Middleton), is also targeted (and her punishment far more drawn out) because she “dared” start a relationship after the deceased shy guy who fancied her from afar never plucked up the courage to ask her out when alive. Is that fair? Really?

For all of Tormented's broad cultural stereotyping – jocks, sluts, emo punks, geeks, prissy virgins – it must be said that writer Stephen Prentice does a spot on job of depicting the power struggles which occur in Britain's state schools. I only hope that the same is not true of the horrendously inadequate teachers (one of whom is as big a bully as his pupils), or the suspiciously absent parents, but it probably is, and probably explains why the young 'uns are such first class idiots to begin with.

In a CR@B Shell: A confusing lesson in life, but for all of its ethical quandaries Tormented does deliver a wild n' wacky slant on an archetypal concept. Its teen demographic will find little to groan about as limbs and bras go flying and the laughter count is sustained throughout.

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Pottering About

12A – 146mins – 2010
Screenplay by: Steve Kloves
Based on the novel by: J. K. Rowling
Directed by: David Yates
Starring: Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson, Ralph Fiennes, Helena Bonham Carter, Bill Nighy, Brendan Gleeson, Jason Isaacs, Imelda Staunton, Alan Rickman, Rhys Ifans, John Hurt, Robbie Coltrane… I could go on…


[SPOILERS*] With an adaptation as colossal and anticipated as Harry Potter – the concluding novel, no less – you are never going to please everyone. From exorcised scenes and streamlined plot points to suspiciously missing characters and limited screen time for big name stars, someone will always find something in director David Yates’s big screen interpretation which doesn’t quite align with their vision of J. K. Rowling’s mammoth seventh tome.

Prior to viewing the film last night, I had cautiously read a couple of reviews – both from reliably renowned mainstream publications, both with ruthlessly average final verdicts – which picked up on Deathly Hallows Part One’s lack of structure in comparison to the previous Hogwarts-framed instalments. Well, ummm, yeah, well spotted Total Empire, that’s kind of the whole point of this story!

Following the death of his wizened headmaster at Half Blood Prince’s downbeat climax, Harry Potter (with ever-loyal bezzie mates Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger in tow) leaves behind the comfort of the enchanted School of Witchcraft and Wizardry to survive in the harsh terrain of a real world which is out for his blood, all the while searching for seven Horcrux McGuffins which contain segments of the soul of his deadly arch nemesis.

This isn’t a Quidditch match against Slytherin where no matter how awkwardly you fall off your broom Madame Pompfrey will be present to mend your broken bones: this is serious, this is dark and this is depressing. The kids have grown up (note the six o’clock stubble, hormonal outbursts, and – during one nightmarish divination – a topless clinch between Harry and Hermione), their guiding lights have been extinguished and their families far away – the cruelties and mysteries of the outside life are present for them to battle and demystify all by themselves.

Surely, if indeed there is a lack of structure then it is fully intentional: on the cusp of adulthood, these kids are thrust into the biggest challenge of their already taxing lives, totally unsure of how to progress. They’re outcast and running blind with no clue of where to search, what the Horcruxes look like or how to destroy them and weaken He Who Shall Not Be Named. It’s all luck and guess work, but still they soldier on against the odds.

Thus, tempers are rising, mistakes are made and wild goose chases ensue; but they still have a purpose, and with Voldemort’s evil army growing ever stronger and even the once impenetrable Ministry of Magic falling foul of his Pureblood propaganda, it is comforting to know that there are still two people Master Potter can trust – even if it clearly isn’t film critics…

I couldn’t help but smile knowingly at scripter Steve Kloves’s numerous call-backs to previous adventures, truly knitting the saga together like never before, none more so than when House elf Dobby reappears after four film’s absence, sporting a dirty pillowcase gown and pair of trainers. But parents of young Muggles be warned: this is not a cuddly and sweet tale and any humour and joy is soon overshadowed by darkness.

Brace yourselves for backstabbing, treachery, destruction, torture, disfigurement, bloodshed and more deaths than you can shake a wand at (one of which, in particular, upset me more on screen than it did on the page). The film’s colour palette is varying shades of grey and the atmosphere is cold, inhospitable and full of despair – even Bill and Fleur’s colourful wedding celebrations are marred by a Death Eater attack.

Yet despite the unrelenting fear and hopelessness, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part One is still a thoroughly enjoyable experience. You become so caught up in this fully realised world that it never feels like the film is dragging, or that too little of the story is being stretched to breaking point. Ignore any mad-eyed and moody journalists who disagree. Indeed, a number of uproarious and high-octane set-pieces splendidly counteract the subdued consternation of the Horcrux hunt.

With the credits rolling on a cliffhanger which hangs in Voldemort’s favour, I for one cannot wait to see how David Yates surpasses this emotional extravaganza with Potter’s final bow next summer.

In a CR@B Shell: Bleak, gloomy and disquieting, but oh-so-entertaining nonetheless. Don’t listen to the critical naysayers; Death Hallows Part One is a gripping, exhausting and unrepentant adult fantasy adventure.
* On the off chance that someone, somewhere – perhaps holed up in Azkaban? – still hasn’t read the books yet…

Friday, 19 November 2010

Through a Glass, Darko

DVD Review: S. DARKO
15 – 99mins – 2009
Written by: Nathan Atkins
Based on the characters created by: Richard Kelly
Directed by: Chris Fisher
Starring: Daveigh Chase, Briana Evigan, Jackson Rathbone, James Lafferty, Ed Westwick, Zucay Henao, Elizabeth Berkley, John Hawkes, Bret Roberts, Matthew Davis


“There must be some connection between what happened to Donnie and Samantha…”
I’ve seen my share of redundant direct-to-DVD sequels over the years, but I think S. Darko truly takes the bunny-shaped biscuit. From phallic-shaped cones of time fluctuation, to nightmarish lagomorphic masks, suspicious house fires and objects falling from the sky – there really is little from Richard Kelly’s head-scratcher of a cerebral mind-fuck that hasn’t been recycled in this belated and lazy cash-in.

It’s 1995 and Daveigh Chase, now all grown up, reprises her role as Donnie’s little sister Samantha (clearly considered too long a word for the abbreviated title…). Leaving behind her family – who have fallen apart following her older brother’s death – Sam Darko and rebellious mate Corey (Step Up 2’s Evigan) are on their way to start a new life in L.A. when their car breaks down and they are forced to take up temporary residence in a backwater town while cool dude Randy (Gossip Girl’s Westwick) fixes their water pump.

A meteorite strikes nearby (evidently the smaller budget couldn’t stretch to a plane engine), a shy nerd (Twilight’s Rathbone) gets a “gnarly” rash and flips out, some Jesus loving adults in positions of authority have questionable opinions about some missing children (sound familiar?) and a shell-shocked war vet (One Tree Hill’s Lafferty) with a recognizable surname is ostracised from the community but haunted by the ghost of the still living Samantha, who tells him the world is going to end (again).

Basically, there is too much going on with too many characters, especially taking into account the fragmented nature of the plot with alternative realities, time travel and dream sequences aplenty. At one point halfway through I was questioning for about 10 minutes whether Samantha was even the main character!! It’s not necessarily confusing (if you’ve seen the 2001 original you can foretell what happens), just unnecessarily busy, with many subplots building up then all but disappearing before they’ve reached a pay-off.

Rathbone’s Jeremy, for instance, becomes infected by the radiation from the meteorite, morphing from a shy and retiring lad into an angry and violent maniac. This could have been a key plot point (even a film of its own), but it comes to nothing, and the truth of his transformation is never revealed – it could be alien possession for all we learn. Ultimately, Jeremy’s only major contribution to the narrative could easily have been offloaded to another character and the dead weight discarded. This is true of most of the film’s minor players, too.

Writer Nathan Atkins was clearly trying too hard to stay faithful to Richard Kelly’s iconic vision while simultaneously injecting his script with a myriad of original elements, without compromising, belittling or negatively impacting Donnie’s legacy. I’m afraid to say that this cowardly approach failed, as S. Darko – so packed to the rafters with nods and callbacks as it is – comes across as more of a distorted reimagining than a franchise-sustaining sequel.

In a CR@B Shell: A spinelessly unoriginal mirror image of Richard Kelly’s imaginative stand-alone time travelling conundrum. Pretty enough to look at, but S. Darko is far too reliant upon Donnie to stand on her own two feet.

Thursday, 18 November 2010

Wiseman #Three

Released: 8th November 2011


When an artist as globally renowned as James Hillier Blount (that’s Blunt to you and I) releases a new album, you expect him to return to the limelight with an almighty bang: a flurry of high profile appearances, hyperbolic performances, grandiose costumes and a swirl of magazine covers and interviews; literally anything to get the word out that JAMES BLUNT IS BACK.

Yet, after three years away from the public eye, the “Wiseman” hit-maker has released his new LP in a rather muted and old-school fashion: he’s clearly letting the songs speak for themselves, which is a brave move when competing with the Rihanna’s, Lady GaGa’s and Cheryl Cole’s of the extrovert 2010 pop landscape.

And so it is that Some Kind of Trouble “only” reached #4 in the UK charts this week, after his two previous records both hit the top spot. This is not to say that this is a weaker collection of tracks – to go top 5 is by no means a failure – but three years is a long time away in this flippant and inattentive superficial age. You may require more than a guest slot on Never Mind the Buzzcocks next time, James. I’d book myself in for The X Factor results show in 2013 now, if I was you!!

Blunt has always been know for “nice” songs; inoffensive and harmonious ditties which let his soft voice soar on the choruses and can easily be played on acoustic guitar. They lack the almighty bang which I previously mentioned, relying instead upon capturing the public imagination to make an impact, much like “You’re Beautiful” did half a decade ago. It’s a shame that lead single “Stay the Night” didn’t quite manage this (peaking as it did at #37) as it is a joyful and happy track which evokes summer nights and camp-fire sing-alongs.

Alongside the warm and uniting glow of “Stay the Night”, “Superstar” (track 6) and “I’ll Be Your Man” (track 10) are my personal favourites from the album – upbeat and jaunty numbers which get your mouth humming and foot tapping. Track 2, “Dangerous”, starts off with a much heavier beat than you usually expect from a Blunt number, but that soon gets lost amid the tuneful layering – not that that’s a negative admission.

If you’re familiar with either 2004’s debut Back to Bedlam or sophomore effort All the Lost Souls (2007) then you know what to expect from Some Kind of Trouble. This album is by no means a reinvention; indeed a trio of tracks – “Best Laid Plans”, “No Tears” and “Calling Out Your Name” – retain the sombre melody of the musician’s more heartfelt ballads from previous releases. Perhaps they were written in the same sessions and held back, who knows?

From suspiciously similar songs to something spectacularly specialised: album closer “Turn Me On” is something of a unique peculiarity. More discordant in tone and with a rawer and jazzier feel than any of the album’s other tunes, this raunchy slap bass number sticks out like a sore thumb. It’s not necessarily bad, but it doesn’t feel like it belongs, either, which is perhaps why it was tagged on the end as an experimental bonus track, after the five seconds of silence which compose track 12.

In a CR@B Shell: A solid if unspectacular return for the former army officer. Playing to his strengths, Some Kind of Trouble repeats Blunt’s folksy formula, though he may have to change things up a little for future releases if he is to avoid being labelled bland.

Getting Even With Cad

15 – 102mins – 1995
Story by: Telsche Boorman and Josiane Balasko
Screenplay by: Josiane Balasko
Directed by: Josiane Balasko
Starring: Victoria Abril, Josiane Balasko, Alain Chabat, Ticky Holgado, Catherine Hiegel

Since when has adultery been funny? Certainly not in this French “comedy” where fighting affair with affair only leads to a flaming farce which blows up in everyone’s face. Gawky estate agent Laurent (Egon Spengler lookalike Chabat) has cheated on his sweet and neglected housewife Loli (Abril) with every tart in town, so we are meant to rejoice when butch lesbian Marijo (Balasko) turns up on despairing Loli’s doorstep and the two hit it off a little too well…

What follows is a ludicrously awkward and bizarre year-long ménage a trios where desperate Loli uses smitten Marijo to make her unfaithful sap of a sexist husband jealous by inviting the unfeminine, cigar-chomping DJ to move into her family home so she can sleep with her while grovelling sap Laurent snivels on the sofa. How immature… how totally fucked up!!

I’m sure there’s a message in their somewhere about feminist empowerment, but it gets totally lost in this unromantic Carry On style romp which forgoes the pain and heartache of real-life domestic drama for bed-hopping tomfoolery. Even the original French title, Gazon Maudit, is played for laughs: “Dreadful lawn” is a crude expression for a lady’s… well, I think you can guess!!

So Loli obtains the passion absent from her marriage from an outside source; but why is a happily heterosexual woman so easily swayed into a single sex relationship? Is writer/director/star Josiane Balasko trying to suggest that when looking for love it’s a free-for-all where you pick a gender on a whim?? This bisexual implication certainly isn’t put to bed by a laughable epilogue twist which suggests that even after everything Laurent still can’t keep it in his pants.

So the moral of the caper is a leopard can’t change his spots, but a human can change sexual persuasion? Hmmm…. A further irritation, for me, was that Loli was already happy for Marijo to kiss and grope her even before Laurent’s serial infidelities had been revealed by his repugnant best mate (Holgado). How can we sympathise with any of these characters if even the victims are lacking in morals?

Even headstrong wanderer Marijo – the only one without commitments, remember – far too readily and selfishly breaks up a family home where two young children must be utterly bewildered by this manly woman who is being overly friendly with their mother.

Filmed in 1995, this film already feels horrendously outdated – and not just because of the brick of a mobile phone Laurent heaves around or the fact Marijo plays a Game Boy before bed. The depiction of straight and gay lifestyles just seems far too loose and unrealistic and I can imagine some people being offended by the lack of restraint the characters demonstrate. I can’t help but feel that in an attempt to appear edgy and modern, French Twist just comes across desperate.

In a CR@B Shell: A questionable comedy which makes light of its devastating moral outlook by pushing every scenario to farcical extremes. It’s hard to warm to any of the characters, so destructive are their actions, yet we’re meant to accept that it’s all forgiveable in the name of “love”…

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

To Obsession, And Beyond!

7th November, 2010
University of East Anglia


I'm not ashamed to admit that some of my tastes in the visual arts incline towards what most may call geeky. Star Wars, Star Trek, Red Dwarf, The Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy, Dawn of the Dead, Jurassic Park... What can I say: I've got an imagination! And yet, in my 26 years upon this mortal coil, I had yet to set foot inside the ultimate nerdy grail: a science fiction convention. This was all about to change on Sunday November 7th 2010 A.D. when I attended the Norwich Sci-Fi Festival 2010.

I reluctantly decided to leave my lightsabre and Jedi robes at home, and so, kitted out in a slightly more culturally acceptable Kryten t-shirt, I set out to meet such genre luminaries as Chris “Arnold Rimmer” Barrie, Norman “Holly” Lovett, David “Darth Vader” Prowse, Kenny “R2-D2” Baker, Warwick “Willow” Davis, some shockingly questionable Doctor Who “lookalikes” and some guy in a union jack mask who wasn't afraid to flaunt what he had in a white lyrca bodysuit – oh dear god, that's one image I'll never be able to mind meld away...

Taking place in the LCR on the campus of Norwich's UEA, a multitude of stalls selling all manner of both new and second-hand memorabilia cluttered the main room like a Tattooinian market peopled by rubber-masked B-movie rejects, with the stage area being used sporadically for question and answer sessions throughout the day. The back room, adjacent to the cafeteria (classy), was where the meet and greets and autograph tables were situated.

As big a Star Wars fan as I am, I will admit that the main draw of the day, for me, was to meet two members of the Red Dwarf crew, and this was clearly a feeling shared by many an attendee as Chris Barrie's queue was about a parsec longer than any other celebrity. Who's the goit, now?!

I was a combustible combination of giddy and nervous as the queue edged ever-nearer to Second Technician Arnold Judas Rimmer Bsc. (Bronze Swimming certificate): after all, Chris Barrie had been sat at this table all day, forced into making pleasantries with all manner of crazed fanatics. Exactly what could *I* say that he hadn't heard a gazillion times before?

“Where's your H?”
“Alright, Smeeeeeeegggggggg Heeeeeeeeaaaaaaaaad?”
“If you're a hologram with a soft body light bee, how can you lay on a bunk?”
“You were great in Tomb Raider”
As it turned out, I simply made basic and polite conversation in a self-degrading fashion (“I don't have a clue what to say to you except: I love Red Dwarf...” etcetera) before chastising Norman Lovett for chewing on a digestive biscuit while posing for a photograph (highlight of the day? Methinks so) – I'm sure the senile sat nav loved me for that one...

I decided not to pay the extraordinary prices for getting a photo signed by David Prowse and Kenny Baker, instead making do with the mental picture of watching the man who is Darth Vader eat a ham salad from a paper plate with plastic cutlery – talk about destroying the movie magic!! I'll never be able to watch the Cloud City intervention scene from Empire again without imagining the Dark Lord of the Sith struggling to poke a cherry tomato through the grates in his mask...

I realise that this event was by no means in the same league as Collectormania or Comic-Con, but as a first taste of convention conventions, it was certainly an eye-opener – and not in a good way. Watching Warwick Davis (and his young and bewildered son) struggle to drum up crowd participation during his Q&A (read: biography promo) while a stall vendor stared daggers at a child for daring to touch his Thunderbird 2 toy (that isn't a euphemism, thankfully) just made me feel incredibly awkward.

I understand that these celebs make a tidy profit from schmoozing with their fanbase – some have clearly made a living from it since their 70's heyday – but I couldn't help but think that they must be monumentally bored by the benile “banter” and false, lifeless smiles as they pose for endless photo-ops. At least there's an element of surprise if you happen to bump into a famous face shopping in Oxford Circus, rather than the monotony of seeing them rush through a line of anticipating fanboys before their ham salad arrives.

It would be futile to give an event such as this an “out of five” rating as there was no product or performance for me to judge, but to sum up my feelings: I wouldn't go so far as to say I regret going to the Norwich Sci Fi Festival 2010 (it was only a fiver for a ticket, after all), and I had a real laugh (if for all the wrong reasons). I honestly did enjoy seeing some of my (greying) heroes of the screen in the (wrinkly) flesh, but it was all a bit too much for me. Perhaps I'm simply not the geek I thought I was...?

Bad Chavvy Trouble

Who? Imogen Heap
What? Leg 7(!) of the Ellipse World Tour
When? Sunday 7th November, 2010
Where? The Waterfront, Norwich
Why? Because this gal can’t stop touring!

Stopping off at the Waterfront in Norwich on the latest leg of her seemingly never-ending Ellipse World Tour (next stop: Europe, before finishing up in South Africa!!), the incomparable one woman band Ms. Heap may very well have delivered the best gig I have seen her play yet (this being the third time I have seen her live since early 2007).

I say “may” because the performance was spoiled for me by two incidents in the throng of the crowd. Neither of which were Imogen’s fault, but as any gig-goer will know: the venue's atmosphere can either make or break a gig, and when a trio of crude, ignorant and mouthy chavs are stood close by you drinking, swearing and mouthing off at anyone who would dare ask for quiet during an acoustic number, it doesn’t half wear your enthusiasm for the music down.

Thankfully, some five songs in, the three must-be-twats were either ejected or moved to a dark corner to question the logic in paying nearly twenty quid to attend an intimate gig only to yak disrespectfully over the performance. Alas, the damage had been done and it took me a while to get back into the spirit of the evening, only for another member of the crowd to faint on top of us some three quarters of the way through.

Please don’t misinterpret my irritation: I am in no way blaming the poor girl for blacking out (how inhuman do you think I am?!) and I’m sure her and her partner’s evening was thoroughly ruined by the unfortunate incident, but the flash of panic as someone lays unconscious on the floor a foot away from you takes some getting over – after all, this isn’t a Michael Jackson world tour where fainting fans being crowd-surfed to the safety of the security staff is a regular occurrence (seriously, check out the crowd shots throughout the Dangerous Tour in Bucharest DVD – the first aiders must have been rushed off their feet!!).

Getting back to last Sunday's on-stage activity, I was thoroughly impressed by the set-list, which Immi proclaimed was voted for by fans online prior to every stop of the tour, thus what she was playing was exclusive to Norwich. “Come Here Boy”, penned at the age of just 16 and committed to disc on 1998’s debut iMegaphone, and “Let Go”, from the oft-overlooked Frou Frou album and made famous by its inclusion in Zach Braff’s Garden State, gave a broader range to the song choices, although there was still room for firm favourites “The Moment I Said It”, “Just For Now” and “Hide & Seek”, which naturally rounded off the encore with a crowd sing-along.

Given the intricate depth to each of Imogen’s various compositions, she once again brought back her hard-working support acts – acoustic guitarist and "noise-maker" Ben Christopher and hauntingly inventive violin duo Geese, both of whom I can recommend – to lend a hand in bringing her multifarious recordings to life live on stage.

The perils of recreating such complex and technologically-reliant tracks were brought to the fore when an attempt to record (and then loop) a string melody for “Let Go” was thrice halted and only resolved when Immi’s wrist-mics were used in lieu of the more traditional handheld voice amplifier. Thankfully her (non-chav) fanbase are a patient enough bunch and were happy to listen to her scatty-but-amiable banter and random anecdotes while the technician’s scratched their heads under the sweltering heat of the impressive stage lighting.

Personal highlights for me were the impressively-layered construction of “First Train Home” from wine glass rim sound effects to complete track before our ears, main-set closer “Tidal” – for which Imogen donned a pair of Kanye West shutter specs and a white key-tar to rock out for a funky extended riff – and Speak For Yourself’s “Goodnight And Go”, likewise extended with a rock-fuelled middle eight replete with a heavy drum solo (and repeated with the lights out to showcase the temperamental instrument’s amazing touch-sensitive light show).

Never one to rest on her laurels, Imogen’s Norwich exclusive set-list was a perfect mix of crowd pleasers and fan favourite album tracks:

1. The Walk
2. Swoon
3. Come Here Boy
4. Wait It Out
5. First Train Home
6. Little Bird
7. Canvas
8. A Ha!
9. Speeding Cars
10. Let Go

11. Just For Now
12. Between Sheets
13. Goodnight And Go
14. Headlock
15. Tidal

16. The Moment I Said It
17. Hide & Seek

In a CR@B Shell: Crowd frustration aside, the musician’s musician put on yet another stunning and crowd-pleasing performance. This was an elaborate and diverse set with Immi in high spirits off the back of selling out the Royal Albert Hall 2 nights previous.
All photos from review of Imogen's Liverpool gig, which you can find HERE. All credit where due, no copyright infringement intended.