Nothing shores up a foundering head of state’s popularity among the electorate like a quick war, decisively won. The British response to Argentina’s 1982 invasion of the Falkland Islands looks from three decades on something like what the Bush Administration promised the seven-plus-year-old war in Iraq would be: The Falklands War lasted only 74 days, and the U.K.’s victory helped propel the Conservative government of Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher to big electoral gains the following year.
Sink the Belgrano!, a 1986 play by British actor and director Steven Berkoff, is not a cool-headed history of the conflict or anything close. It’s an astringent piece of agitprop condemning what Berkoff sees as a violent overreaction by Thatcher — called “Maggot Scratcher” here, in the plainest example of his appropriation of sing-songy, infantile language — whom the playwright argues rebuffed all attempts at diplomacy, knowing her political aims would be better served by bloodshed. The title refers to an episode a month after the Argentine invasion, wherein the British nuclear submarine HMS Conqueror fired upon and destroyed the vessel ARA General Belgrano, killing 323 crewmen.
Haven’t seen it, which, I know, right? I told the City Paper why.
Meanwhile: photo caption contest!
When Man of Few Words, Many Songs Tom Petty allowed himself a few words in praise of his since-forever band, The Heartbreakers, last night at — there’s just no way to get around saying this — Jiffy Lube Live, he introduced drummer Steve Ferrone as “the man who gets the job done.”
He could just as easily have been doing something he seems to detest: talking about himself.
Everyone knows you don’t go to Tom Petty for flash or invention. You to him for the thing he has, more than any other rocker of his generation, come to embody: excitement-free dependability. Since 1976, he’s rarely let more than a couple years go by without giving us another song or three that sounds just perfect on the radio of a car with the windows open. (It should’ve been Petty who eventually starting selling pickup trucks, not John Mellencamp, who despite sharing Petty’s greatest-hits approach to live performance, has at various points in his career appeared to suspect he was making art.) Petty has always made writing great — well, greatish — songs look easy. And last Christmas, an expansive box set compiling three decades of concert recordings made a strong case that TP and the HBs have earned a spot in the live rock band pantheon. Continue reading
When you fling a bra into the abyss, the abyss flings it back at you.
…where, ah, “the abyss” is the possibly-biggest-selling, certainly-biggest-sounding band in indie rock. Specifically, Arcade Fire. More specifically, Régine Chassagne, singer and co-songwriter and spouse of frontman Win Butler, who, late in Arcade Fire’s ecstatic 95-minute concert at Merriweather Post Pavilion last night, briefly abandoned her post behind the piano to toss that ladies’ garmet (which might actually have been a halter top; it was hard to see) back to its owner. This isn’t 1987 and we’re not Poison, her revolted glare seemed to scold.
Of course, it could very well have been circa-1987 U2, what with the urgent vastness of the music; the related sense of a big, important band grown huge and courting self-importance; and also the lack of any detectable awareness of sex– which is kind of weird, given how driving and propulsive Arcade Fire’s most arresting music is. On a tune like “Rebellion (Lies)”, the dizzying set-closer that invited the bra-throw, all eight musicians on stage were basically playing percussion, and almost all of them were shouting the lyrics whether they had microphones or not. Continue reading
Sara Barker as Algernon / Photo: Ian C. Armstrong
Back to the grind. Here’s my CP review of Scena’s promising but under-rehearsed drag production of The Importance of Being Earnest. That’s Sara Barker as Algernon up there. It’s a fact she was blowing lines left and right at the presser last weekend, but hers was one of my two favorite performances in a show that had more than two strong ones, so.
So I’ve been blogging for the last month or so for the Washington City Paper, primarily at Fringe & Purge, their Capital Fringe Festival blog, which I had the duty and the privilege of editing this year. I’ve written lots of stuff for them in the past month, some of which I don’t detest at all, that I’ve not linked to from here just because — well, because making one blog worth reading is voraciously time-consuming. Two? Forget it.