Tag Archives: movie

Film Review of ‘Crock of Gold: A Few Rounds with Shane MacGowan’, BBC4, 16 March 2021

Another in-depth TV treat for the music obsessive, following the recent broadcast of ‘King Rocker’, chronicling punk legends The Nightingales.

With Julian Temple at the creative and directing helm, ‘Crock of Gold: A Few Rounds with Shane MacGowan’ is an informative, romanticized, warm, irreverent and funny trip through the career of the Pogues frontman, with interviews, live performances, animations, TV appearances and Irish history. The two hour running time allowed for a huge supporting cast orbiting around the music and cultural influences of Shane; from Samuel Beckett and W.B. Yeats to Joe Strummer and Johnny Depp. Family members and friends provided extra insight but in the end it was the music clips and comments from Shane that were the key.

Shane MacGowan seemed to have been filmed in the front row at numerous London gigs in the late 70s for the likes of the Sex Pistols and The Clash, noticed by the NME as ‘the face of ’77’. These appearances were followed by many recordings of the early Pogues shows, encapsulating their electricity and commitment to re-energising traditional Irish music.

Many of their best songs featured; ‘Streams Of Whiskey’, ‘A Pair Of Brown Eyes’, ‘The Sick Bed of Cuchulainn’, ‘Sally MacLennane’ and of course ‘Fairytale of New York’ also had to be there, particularly serving as a reminder of the talent of Kirsty MacColl. The sentimentality of ‘A Rainy Night In Soho’ is probably a superior song and their brilliant cover of ‘The Band Played Waltzing Matilda’ was juxtaposed with a liner leaving for the US, one of many references to the Irish diaspora.

Shane described the intensity of success when the band’s fame led at one point to 364 shows in one year, causing health problems and ending with him leaving the band in 1991, (though there were reunion shows from 2001 onward). With excerpts from his 60th birthday tribute show, this very watchable film left a lasting impression.

Shane MacGowan – Official Website

The Pogues, Thetford Forest, 14 June 2014 | cambridgemusicreviews

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Film Review of ‘Yesterday’, released June 2019

The premise of this film is now well known; struggling musician wakes up in a world in which nobody knows of The Beatles so he seizes the opportunity to pass off the classic songs as his own. The concept is then weaved skilfully into romantic comedy, family and buddy movie, satire on the music business, East Anglian travelogue, a cameo from Michael Kiwanuka and generous helpings of Ed Sheeran. In the hands of writer Richard Curtis and director Danny Boyle this all works as it should but of course some of the prominent reviews are predictable and fairly lukewarm.

I have limited interest in the much more favourably reviewed recent megahit music biopics (I would rather watch a proper documentary!) but I believe this film delves into something deeper – through the vehicle of well-known Beatles music there is a less frequently told tale of the huge creative and emotional investment that so many artists have in their writing and performing which is probably never going to lead to ‘bigger things’ – the antithesis of reality TV easy fame.
Lead character Jack has stumbled on a goldmine but still wants his ‘Summer Song’ to feature on the album, as he is so connected to his own compositions.
Few around him share his enthusiasm, except some well-meaning friends and sweet-natured but steely superfan Ellie. Unfortunately this is so true – many original musicians continue to play and record while the world around them only seems interested in the well established acts or variations that are openly commercial.

I didn’t grow up with the Beatles as a soundtrack, they have always been in the background with some songs far too overplayed (heresy warning – especially ‘Hey Jude’ and ‘Let It Be’). In recent years I have heard some of their album tracks for the first time and realised the depth and richness of the back catalogue.
The song selection here is not huge but there are many gems; ‘Back In The USSR’ helps develop the plot, the sublime ‘In My Life’ probably surpasses ‘Yesterday’ as a show-stopping ballad and best of all the triumphant ‘Help’, a punk-scarred full-band blast in front of a huge crowd of extras on Gorleston beach. (I wish I had been there….and are there other outtakes from this mini-show?)

With some fun plot twists and star performances from Himesh Patel and Lily James this is a heartwarming entertainment with plenty of interest for the music enthusiast. I highly recommend it.
To paraphrase Noël Coward; “Strange how potent Beatles music is.”