macbeth (streamed from the olivier to picturehouse central, may 10th) & the lene lovich band (at the lexington, islington, may 20th)


live-streaming is in many ways so much better than #beingthere: better view, cheaper, and a filmed interview with the director before curtain-up; which helped me notice the feel – ‘britain in a few years, after a civil war’ – armour is metal trays and other bits, fastened on with parcel-tape: nice touch

this is more realistic, at least historically, if not to shakespeare’s vision, for surely duncan and crew were closer to outlaw gang leaders than to either elizabeth regina? (the excellent (apart from the actors’ delivery) modern-dress melbourne macbeth film gets this right too)

exciting staging, dark and convincing atmosphere, all good

rory kinnear’s macbeth is great too – nervy, jittery, sprung by his vaulting ambition, his wife, and the witches, into taking steps he’d never contemplate, pulled swiftly to his doom; i felt sorry for him as victim, which made his heroic last stand genuinely heroic (‘at least we’ll die with armour on our back’) – an exemplum of the nobility of the human spirit, a kind of repentance; macbeth achieves salvation

the lene lovich band

a b-side released as a single in its own right made her famous – in 1979; luckily my brother bought it, so we got to know lucky number’s the b-side too, home: tonight’s final encore

now in her mid-60s, lene bobs, smiles and waves her way through an array of souped up pop songs, usually based around a persona unhappy in love but joyous anyway

home exemplifies this – at first a dark evocation, lyrically and musically, of a young person’s ambiguous feelings towards the parental home – ‘home is close control, home is hard to swallow, home is… “i forgot!”, home is “will you miss us?”, home is “i don’t know!”’; yet this is wiped out by a snappy and upbeat refrain of ‘let’s go to your place’, and the song builds to a childishly exuberant climax of the audience singing a completely inappropriate ‘na naa, na na naa, na na naa naa’ lilt – you get the idea; home is awful, but we can have fun anyway

theatre is never far away: lene first appears during the band’s instrumental warm-up, dressed in black and purple, including head-dress, veil and frock – half widow and half, especially with the constant smiles and big eyes, little victorian girl

what i haven’t told you yet is that lene has the most incredible voice: its range is vast, cavernous even, and at any pitch dominates the musical experience; she has always played to this strength – she introduces lucky number by its catch [omg how do i represent this?] ‘ah oh AH oh’ (which is how i remind friends who haven’t heard it for 40 years), and in the more experimental numbers she wails and shrieks like, in her weeds and with the reverb, an electric banshee

How they are related

They’re certainly both gothic, and about women’s power, in particular perhaps, given Lene’s widow’s weeds, and Lady Macbeth’s reference to a (recently) dead child, about the power of grieving women. Add to that the witches (one of Lene’s songs is in a witch persona) and you have at a base level a strong connection. I could draw more tenuous links between Lene’s fundamental optimism-in-struggle (note Home above and her constant smiling) and Macbeth’s heroic end, but they would remain tenuous. Still, Macbeth thought his Lucky Number had rung when he the witches’ first prophecy came true – he was wrong. Ah oh UH oh.

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1 Response to macbeth (streamed from the olivier to picturehouse central, may 10th) & the lene lovich band (at the lexington, islington, may 20th)

  1. Pingback: romeo and juliet, & mahler’s 8th symphony | Houyhnhnm

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