After forty years, Abba are back with an album and a huge virtual concert. But is the gig worth all the fuss around it?
What’s the Concert?Abba Voyage
What’s It All About, JG? Well, without going through the full history of Abba recording music again after forty years, basically they’ve built a bloody big stadium in the east end of London and filled it with a band and a whole heap of technology and lighting. And in this Abba Arena is a show that really isn’t quite like any other. The band members did a motion-capture concert which allowed projections – Abbatars, if you will – of them to be generated as if it were the real thing. These are, naturally, de-aged so we get a view of the band in their prime. But in using mo-cap to get a genuine performance it means you’re not just watching a CGI version of the band. You’re watching them give an actual performance, but then with a bunch of technical jiggery-pokery used to generate the show.
A top London restaurant and a unique concept – but can the food live up to the unique approach to serving it?
What’s The Restaurant? Dans le Noir
What’s It All About, JG? Lots of restaurants tell you that they have something different to offer. Lots of restaurants make a big play about how they’re not like any other. Dans le Noir is the rare exception where this might actually be true. Situated in Clerkenwell, London, the restaurant itself claims to offer a unique dining experience, and it absolutely does – because you dine in pitch darkness.
Till There Was You is up for discussion this week, as JG and Andrew delve into another one of the cover versions on With The Beatles. Is the track as chintzy as its reputation? Do the band make a good fist of a complicated number? Plus we return to one of the podcast’s favourite subjects – The Rutles and Neil Innes – and excitement ahoy! We delve into the postbag for the first time to cover a listener’s email.
This episode, JG and Andrew turn their attention to “Little Child”, which turns out to be a Lennon/McCartney Original and not a cover version at all! What difference does knowing how something was recorded make to appreciating a song? Should this have been a Ringo song, as was originally intended? And what on Earth is “brumbeat”?
[Apologies for delay: life stuff. I’ll get to the other episodes eventually]
The running thread of Dr M’Benga’s sick daughter, and his efforts to cure her, has been just that – a running thread. It’s come up in a couple of episodes, it’s been absent from a couple of episodes, but it’s been used to deepen our understanding of M’Benga and give Babs Olusanmokun the chance to act his socks off. Both of which have very much been achieved. Back in the sixth episode, the deeply unsatisfying “Lift Us Where Suffering Cannot Reach”, M’Benga is able to get access to some advanced medical information which very much implied that his research would be ongoing. That episode didn’t give him a cure, but it gave him a path.
We turn to George’s first Beatles song on an album this episode as JG and Andrew cover “Don’t Bother Me”. How does George’s first attempt at songwriting stack up against Lennon and McCartney? Is his solo output worth bothering (ho ho) with? And how contentious will the final score be?
What’s It All About? After screwing up a training mission, MI5 officer River Cartwright is kicked downstairs to the so-called Slow Horses of Slough House, a dumping ground for failed agents. This is a humiliation where instead of pretending to be James Bond, he’s stuck with tedious paperwork overseen by Jackson Lamb (Gary Oldman!), his apparently-uncaring and uninterested boss. A British-Asian Muslim student is kidnapped by the Sons Of Albion – a right-wing fascist organisation – as a false-flag operation set up by Lamb’s boss, Diana Taverner (Kirsten Scott Thomas). MI5 have an inside man as part of the group but when one of the members goes rogue and executes the agent it’s a rush to find out where they’ve taken the student and rescue him before the Sons execute him. It’s down to the Slow Horses to come up with the answers as they go on the run to stop the fascist group and rescue the student.
Ewan McGregor returns to the role of Obi-Wan for his the first small-screen outing in the role. But can the series live up to the character’s oversized reputation?
What’s the Show, JG?Obi-Wan Kenobi
What’s It All About? Well depending on how generous you’re feeling, it’s either about redeeming pretty much the lone good things from the Star Wars prequels (i.e. Ewan McGregor), or it’s yet another cynical ploy to wring yet more cash / subscriptions out of Star Wars fans by pandering to them with a big star returning to their old role but on the small screen. Either way, Obi-Wan is hiding out on Tatooine nominally watching over Luke Skywalker as he grows up. After Princess Leia – a precocious child with surprising parkour skillz – is abducted, Senator Jimmy Smits Bail Organa asks for Kenobi’s help to get her back. Meanwhile, there’s an Inquisitor on Obi-Wan’s tale, Third Sister Reva Sevander, who has set up the abduction and has her own agenda. After surviving the slaughter of the younglings at the hand of Anakin, she’s out for revenge and wants to kill Luke. The abduction of Leia is part of her absurdly daft and baroque plan to draw Kenobi out, but anyway, we get six episodes of escaping-from-planets, a few lightsaber battles along the way, and eventually Reva gets redemption, Kenobi finally accepts Anakin has gone for good and has subsumed into Darth Vader, and everything ends more or less where it began. Except for all those dead bodies, but oh well, omelettes, eggs, etc
It’s something of a classic that’s getting covered this episode as “All My Loving” falls under the spotlight. Does it deserve to be such a popular live number? Why is JG pulled up for speaking French? And how on-topic will things stay before the inevitable score?
The second song on With The Beatles goes under the JG/Andrew microscope today with All I’ve Got To Do. Does it continue the album’s run of quality after the terrific opener? How go Lennon’s vocals? And for how long can two people prevaricate over picking a score for the song while essentially working out format points on the fly?