The Week Ahead from 4th July 2011: James Taylor, Steve Martin, John Butler Trio, Jason Derülo, Weezer, Beverley Knight and more
Apart from it being American Independence Day on Monday, there are far more things to celebrate closer to home as yet another wave of festivals kicks off around the UK, and Ireland, including T in the Park, Sonisphere, Oxegen and Lounge On The Farm.
Gigs-wise, it's a week of one-offs and pre-fests from James Taylor, Stereophonics, Paul Oakenfold and Jason Derülo, who is currently hogging the top of the UK charts at the moment.
For the arts, attractions include laughter-makers such as Tim Vine and Ahir Shah, operatic performances including Cendrillon and even a summer panto - no, it's not a new version of Singing In The Rain but instead a modern summer-panto take on the Goldilocks story.
All prices are exclusive of booking fees.
Thursday will see the great American songwriter charm the pants off a loyal audience once more, with his first shows in two years, including his first in Glasgow for four years. Tickets are still available for all of the shows and prices cost from £45 upwards.
Furnished with his Steep Canyon Rangers for a trio of big shows is legendary comedy-actor and bluegrass-musician, Steve Martin. He's visiting Hammersmith on Friday, Manchester on Saturday and the already-sold-out Glasgow on Sunday. We strongly recommend you get a wiggle on for the first two remaining music-and-banter shows - prices are £28.50 and £32.50.
John Butler Trio
This established alt-pop and rock outfit hail from Down Under where they've chalked up platinum sales for their albums, including last year's "April Uprising", which was also a modest hit in the States and, curiously, France. The UK has yet to succumb, although his concerts do normally sell out in Liverpool or London. This time round, he's sold out Sunday's show in Newquay instead - which means you have a short while to grab tickets for London, Manchester and Southampton - £18.50 to £20.
OFWGKTA [Odd Future]
Their name might be a bit of a mouthful (it stands for Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All), but this Californian hip-hop/beats collective is starting to get 'the London buzz' at the moment, which means that shows sell out quicker than brollies in Wimbledon. Their July shows have sold out, bar the 2nd Electric Ballroom show on Weds (still up for £10).
One of the key bands in the history of US hardcore music from the '80s/'90s, but now a more-or-less straightforward rock band with big kahunas, Bad Religion normally sell-out their shows pretty quickly. On this occasion, their gigs in London, Glasgow and Wolves are still up for £15 - £17.50.
The smooth urban-soul singer pretty much sold out his last shows in the spring, so don't be surprised if these three club-p.a. appearances vanish just as quickly. Watford, Basildon and Kingston are the chosen towns from Thursday onwards and the price is £10 (or £15 for Kingston, which I imagine means the venue is gold-plated?).
Pre-fest time for your favourite geek-rockers - Wednesday's show at the Brixton Academy is a pre-Sonisphere show that has already sold-out though, but you can try contacting the venue (or attempt to gain entry via the roof, dressed as James Bond).
These two shows are the first Trans Am shows we've had, in fact the London event is more of a day-fest. Entitled Raw Power, the Corsica Studios (near the Coronet in Elephant) will host a veritable buffet of psychedelic funk, rock and garage from other performers like Bo Ningen and around a dozen others (£10 on Sunday). They also headline a date in Bristol on Monday (also £10).
This special show is a double-header with Alexandra Burke at Tynemouth's Priory and Castle on Friday evening and marks Knight's next album, the cover-version-packed "Brit Soul", a collection of urban classics from the past few decades. Tickets are still available for £25.
No doubt the soft-rock strains of "If You Leave Me Now" and "Hard To Really Say I'm Sorry" will waft through the auditorium on Wednesday night, when Chicago comes to Hammersmith's Apollo. Tickets are still up for £39.50, but selling fast in the final week.
After spending what seems a lifetime of swanning around the globe, spreading the good love of full-on club-classics and the latest tunes, Oakey returns to Blighty with an exclusive set at Birmingham's Gatecrasher club on Saturday night. Grab your tickets now for just £8 or £10.
There's just no stopping Hooky at the moment - he's recently toured with his band, The Light, playing Joy Division songs at various UK shows. Despite getting some stick for doing those shows (can't see why - he co-wrote the bloody songs!), Hook continues unabated, this time with a Saturday night of Factory reminiscence and Hacienda memories at Hebden Bridge's Picture House, followed by a DJ set at the town's Trades Club. £15 gets you entry to both, or £8 for just the talk show.
Gaining a reputation for good old-fashioned breezy indie-pop songs, such as the recently released single "Days Of Old", is Babeshadow from London. They have a series of modest-sized shows coming up from Tuesday onwards, starting in Nottingham and continuing to Glasgow and Manchester. Tickets are dirt-cheap at £4-£6.
The Sisters of Mercy
Also on sale this week are shows from goth-lords, Sisters Of Mercy, celebrating their 30th anniversary with two shows this year with the first in Glasgow on Tuesday (tickets still up for £25), plus Julian Lloyd Webber in Carlisle on Sunday (£20), a Christchurch-fundraising show at the Savoy with Neil Finn on Tuesday (cough - £325.50), and a nearly-sold-out rare UK show for US punk/hardcore outfit, Social Distortion at Shepherd's Bush on Thursday (£22.50).
T in the Park
T in the Park 2011
Beyoncéis hoping to emulate her huge Glastonbury show at the Scottish festival behemoth, along with Foo Fighters, Coldplay (who also gave Glasto a good seeing to) and Tom Jones. T in the Park has sold-out, of course, but if you're going, take those wellies!
The Summer Series
The Summer Series 2011
Somerset House in London begins its heavyweight summer season with Eels on Thursday (sold out), Professor Green on Friday (£22.50), Stornoway on Saturday (£22.50 - few left) and Aloe Blacc on Sunday (not surprisingly, sold-out). The big names continue up until the 17th, with only Imelda May, Lamb and My Morning Jacket with tickets available.
Incredibly, there are still weekend tickets left for the Knebworth weekender which stars Metallica, Slipknot, Biffy Clyro, Weezer and Slayer. Prices start at £180 for the weekend with camping. Other festivals this weekend include Ireland's massive Oxegen 2011 (sold out), Kent's Lounge On The Farm 2011 (still available - £45 per day or £105 for the weekend) and the Welsh weekender, Wakestock 2011 (£125 for the weekend).
Theatre, Comedy and Arts
The Suitcase Royale
Award-winning Aussies and theatrical humourists, The Suitcase Royale, have a two-week residency coming up at London's Soho Theatre from Monday onwards. Expect a mixture of zany humour, both spoken and strummed, with decent ticket prices starting at a tenner. Ends on 16th July.
A change of format awaits lovers of the 'pun and only' Tim Vine - this time he will present his special chat-show in which YOU could be the star (or most ridiculed mug of the night). Expect the pun-expected as Vine entertains at The Albany on Monday night (the first of three shows) - tickets are only £6, so expect them to sell through very quickly.
This is a special pre-Edinburgh Festival show at the Elgar Room at the Royal Albert Hall on Wednesday night, starring two top-notch comedians. Ahir Shah and Andy Zaltzman will deliver a pin-sharp politically-inclined hour-long set each for just £8!
After the recent premature passing of his Jackass buddy Ryan Dunn, Steve-O is sure to pay homage to one of the wildest stuntmen of the century. O himself isn't impartial when it comes to danger, but we imagine doing stand-up shows is probably more bowel-churning than shoving a skewer through your head. This special IndigO2 show on Thursday is still up for £17.
Summer Panto: Goldilocks and the Glasgow Fair
Making a drama out of lunchtime, to quote the venue's strap-line, is Oran Mor in Glasgow and this modern take on the famous children's story. Billed as being for broad-minded kids of all ages, the characters now include a drunk pier-end puppeteer and a day-dreaming granny, set in the 2011 'Depression'! Tickets cost from £10 and the run starts on Monday until the 23rd.
Middle-class values clash with prejudice and fear in this new Nick Gill play about 'hooded armed ethnic youths', a housewife, an arms dealer and a sexually-frustrated teenager with her unwelcome new boyfriend. The Finborough Theatre will present this darkly-humoured work from Tuesday until the 30th - prices start at £9.
London's iconic Globe Theatre will present a non-Shakespeare work in the form of Howard Brenton's celebration of an archetypal English heroine, Anne Boleyn. The show was a sell-out last year at the same venue, so expect tickets for this period-drama to sell quickly - tickets cost from just £5 (yard standing) up to £37.50 (upper gallery) and the run starts on Friday.
0 Midsummer Night's Dream 0
Hoxton's Courtyard Theatre will present a radical and comical new reading of Shakespeare's revered "A Midsummer Night's Dream", in the guise of B-movie effects and bizarre alien invasions. This intriguing show will play from Tuesday till Sunday, with tickets costing £11 - £14.
The Myth of Escape
Salford's King's Arms is the venue for Rob Johnston's surreal follow-up to "Under My Skin". "The Myth of Escape" is described as 'an absurdist political drama' and centres on two cell-mates who wonder why they have been imprisoned, undecided on what crime they have committed. Runs from Thursday till Sunday, priced at just £6.
Translating the title above, it reads as "Cinderella" - suddenly the storyline becomes a little clearer and this Massenet opera becomes a version of the classic fairy-tale. The Royal Opera House in Covent Garden still has a few tickets available priced from £11.70 to £158.30 and the production continues from Tuesday until the 16th.
Glamour of the Gods: Hollywood Portraits
London's National Portrait Gallery begins a major new exhibition from Thursday onwards, charting the iconic images of some the world's most revered and loved Hollywood stars, including rarely (if ever) seen vintage prints of Marlon Brando, Elizabeth Taylor, Jean Harlow (pictured) and Marilyn Monroe. Tickets are £6.