Monday, 25 June 2018

Summer House Sounds At Belvoir Castle PREVIEW



It's an unusual and resplendent setting for a series of big-name music performances and this July, the beautiful Belvoir Castle will host four Summer House Sounds concerts, featuring major headline acts and artists.


Music legend Tom Jones, disco king Nile Rodgers and his band CHIC, dance DJ Pete Tong and the Heritage Orchestra with Ibiza Classics and the world’s most successful classical crossover group Il Divo are the incredible line-up for four consecutive nights in July.

Presented by live music promoters Cuffe and Taylor, Summer House Sounds is about bringing music to the people in unique and beautiful locations. Director Peter Taylor said: “We’re delighted to be presenting Summer House Sounds across the UK this July and are especially delighted to be doing so at Belvoir Castle.



“Since our inception more than nine years ago Cuffe and Taylor’s ethos has always been about taking music to the people and working in areas that don’t tend to attract huge household names.We’ve not worked with Belvoir Castle previously so to be bringing such a stellar line-up to this most magnificent location this year is very exciting."

The Belvoir Castle Summer House Sounds series is:

•   19 July – Nile Rodgers & CHIC
•   20 July – Il Divo with very special guest Michael Ball
•   21 July – Pete Tong Ibiza Classics with support from Becky Hill
•   22 July – Tom Jones with support from Into The Ark

Tickets to all Summer House Sounds concerts are available from www.ticketmaster.co.uk/summerhousesounds

Saturday, 9 June 2018

Accenture World Triathlon Mixed Relay Nottingham 2018 REVIEW

Triathletes diving into the River Trent
Photo copyright Laura Patterson ©


On a mellow June evening, around the stunning setting of Nottingham's beautiful Victoria Embankment and River Trent, international triathletes came to town to spectacularly dive into the river, jump onto bikes and then run a circuit over Trent Bridge and Wilford Suspension Bridge in a heart-poundingly breathtaking inaugural event.

Jonny Brownlee
Photo copyright Laura Patterson ©


In an unforgettable - and FREE - sight, to rousing cheers from the crowds of all ages lining the entire route, including spectators watching from outside pubs and bars on Trent Bridge, top athletes from eigtheen countries competed in Nottingham to earn qualification points for the next Olympics in Tokyo 2020.

For a thrillingly-superhuman ninety minutes, each mixed quartet raced valiantly around the course, and even the drops of rain that began to fell cleared away in respect for this superb sporting spectacle. Finally, Team GB's Non Stanford, Thomas Bishop, Vicky Holland and Jonathan Brownlee took second place, clinching the Silver Medal behind the winning American team with France coming in third.
Matthew McElroy from Team USA
Photo copyright Laura Patterson ©


It's the second triathlon to take place in Nottingham in less than a year and if you missed this awe-inspiringly inspirational event, confidentially, we recommend you come runnin' swimmin' and cyclin' to the next one in 2019.

You can find lots more photos of the triathlon by Laura Patterson in glorious technicolour on our Nottingham Confidential Facebook Page

For more details about the next Accenture World Triathlon Mixed Relay Nottingham in 2019, visit https://nottingham.triathlon.org/register_interest
Triathletes running along Victoria Embankment
Photo copyright Laura Patterson ©

Wednesday, 9 May 2018

The Last Ship at Nottingham Playhouse REVIEW



Docking last night at Nottingham Playhouse for a week, The Last Ship musical, with original score and lyrics composed by Sting, is a salty sea tale of shipbuilding, love, loss, heartbreak, resilience and defiance - complete with a first night performance sprinkled with extra special rock star super-stardust by the attendance of none other than Sting himself, sitting right there in the auditorium in jeans and piratey red and blue striped t-shirt, hello sailor.

The decline of shipbuilding in Tyne and Wear, on paper an unlikely and difficult story for musical theatre, is intertwined with a love-interest romance between the dishily fantastic Gideon Fletcher (Richard Fleeshman) returning home after seventeen years at sea to win back his childhood sweetheart, the gloriously feisty Meg (Frances McNamee). With an earthy, gutsy and roaringly-exceptional cast led by a staunchly convincing and endearing Joe McGann in fine voice as foreman Jackie White, it's a dramatically and poignantly staged show, full of heart and pride running the full spectrum of fervent and affecting emotions.

With a spectacular setting showcasing breathtaking projections by Olivier Award winners 59 Productions transporting the audience through incredible storms with vast ships and glowering moody shipyards, it's a jaw-droppingly impressively staged show, interspersed with beautifully poignant flashback moments, bewitching dancing silhouettes and thrillingly-fierce protesting women at the picket line. Sting's wistful ballads, jaunty sea shanties and raucous protest songs are accompanied by folk dancing and lots and lots of exuberant foot-stamping and stomping with spine-tingling choral singing from the cast.

With a standing ovation on this opening night and Sting on stage at the finale stomping along with the cast, confidentially, we recommend you get your stomping boots on for some cathartic stamping about the decline of shipbuilding, the problems with the NHS and some retro anti-Thatcherism to boot, ahoy and wye aye mateys.

The Last Ship is at Nottingham Playhouse until Saturday 12 May 2018. Full details and ticket prices can be found on the Nottingham Playhouse website


Wednesday, 14 February 2018

Hairspray At Nottingham Theatre Royal REVIEW




Exploding gloriously onto stage like a giant psychedelic sequinned-scattering party-popper, Hairspray hit Nottingham running and generating enough breathtaking energy to sky-rocket the sub-zero February temperatures all the way up to eleven and settled in to go-go on with the show which is twisting and shouting in town for a whole fabulous, flamboyant fortnight.

Addressing hard-hitting racism and segregation issues in 1960s Baltimore with unabashed full-on thunderous ra-ra razzmatazz, Hairspray is a joyous, feelgood spectacle, both fervently and light-heartedly making everything and anything seem possible.

Cha-cha-ing without putting a foot wrong or a hair out of place, and sprayed to within an inch of their haircuts, this is a one hundred percent tip-top top-notch inch-perfect cut-above show. Cast, singing, dancing and staging all bellow out QUALITY and are topped off with the roof-raising, hair-off-your-face-blowing knockout performance by the supreme and divine X Factor semi-finalist Brenda Edwards as Motormouth Maybelle together with a truly touchingly-funny double act of Nottinghamshire-bred Norman Pace and the toweringly gorgeous Matt Rixon as star-turn Tracy Turnblad's parents, awww.

Get on up, get down and get up again and shake what your mother gave you for the not-standing-but dancing ovation after the eye-popping, jaw-dropping, back flipping finale. Confidentially, we recommend you leave your calculus for the morning bus, doo-wop doo-wop a dinga linga shimmy-shimmy right on over to Nottingham Theatre Royal and spray it all over liberally at maximum volume for sensational glittery shine, technicoloured vitality and long-lasting hair-raising bedazzling pizazz (keep away from naked flames.)

Hairspray is at Nottingham Theatre Royal until Saturday 24 February. Full details and ticket prices are available on the Theatre Royal website





Sunday, 3 December 2017

Cinderella At Nottingham Playhouse REVIEW


Once upon a time, in a magically serendipitous local Christmas fairytale, no sooner had one newly matched Royal couple visited our fair city this very week then, slap my thigh, another popped merrily right up the very next day, complete with a Meghan Markle-lookalike Cinderella in the launch of the annual Nottingham Playhouse Christmas panto. 

A beautifully charming dancing woodland creature scene with delightfully gambolling badgers, foxes and hedgehogs, a loveable Buttons and a boy-band-blonde Prince Charming rockin some damn fine duets with a genial Dandini all set the scene of cutesy panto adorableness which all suitably crazily descended into a madcap riot with the unleashing of the triple-threat-terrible-trio of the Step Sisters and their Auntie, the Dowager Duchess Devilla, deliciously-devilishly played by a raucous Rebecca Little.

And oh boy, was John Elkington doing it for himself as sensational Step-Sister Bella, whether wisecracking local gags, batting away first night glitches with a flutter of false eyelashes or belting out a bring-the-house-down torch song solo, woah!

What the show lacked in a bit of a short-changed side-step off-stage transformation scene and a royal palace ball scene that only appeared to have five guests, it gleefully made up for with great one liners and sight-gags including a brilliantly simple joke about hiding a key under a clock that was only a painting on the set, an in-out in-out screwball broken-down car comedy routine, whooped-up incongruous dance routines and local reference jokes taking the mick out of everything from Beeston to Broadmarsh all mixed together with more running gags about sponsors Nottingham City Transport than you could shake a Robin Hood Pay As You Go Card at (with another two gags guaranteed to turn up right behind -you!) All topped off with a surreal but strangely soothing tap dancing fluffy bunny rabbits number.

But the funniest part of the show was the fantastic ad-libbing by John Elkington with children from the audience brought onstage to sing along with Bella in the Songsheet Scene. And there was also a special surprise guest appearance onstage (and apparently the biggest surprise to himself) by none other than Adam Penford on his very first day as the new Artistic Director of Nottingham Playhouse.

With a glorious array of outrageous costumes, beautiful dresses, a glittering golden carriage and stunning crystal slippers to sprinkle stardust on your festive season, it's time to officially cross Prince Harry off your Christmas wishlist and treat yourself instead to a Haribo sweetie high, wave your spinning psychedelic toy windmills in the air, indulge in cathartic bellowing audience participation and release your pre-Christmas angst and/or get right into the festive spirit, Nottingham Playhouse Cinderella panto-style.

Cinderella is at Nottingham Playhouse until Saturday 20 Jan 2018. Full details of show times and ticket prices can be found on the Nottingham Playhouse website

Wednesday, 22 November 2017

Low In High School By Morrissey ALBUM REVIEW



So there was a time when Morrissey word association games usually went ‘Glasses! Oscar Wilde! Kittens!’…now they’re more likely to go, ‘Farage! Airport security! Italian policemen!’. Morrissey enjoys a devoted global following and yet even they are scratching their heads and wondering just how to react to all of Moz’s strangely contemptuous and ill-advised pronouncements, trying to explain it all away as Morrissey being typically perverse, not playing by the rules and refusing to ‘be nice’. 

 Anyway, what I would say to everyone- naysayer or tattooed follower (and I am in the latter camp- full disclosure here- no fake news)- just play the first track on Low In High School – My Love I’d Do Anything For You- earsplittingly loud, stomp your glam boots, use wooden spoons and saucepans as make shift drums and practice elephant style bellowing noises and forget all the UKIP silliness- Morrissey is STILL a godamn genius, I’m afraid, and you ain’t getting away from that easily. I’m not saying that the album is perfect all the way though and there are some serious horse troughs of woefulness there. For example; the weirdly leaden and rambling anti-soldier diatribe I Bury the Living. Morrissey can be brilliant on masculinity- I refer you to I’m Not A Man on World Peace is Not of Your Business- hell, I’ll even refer you to Vicar in a Tutu if you want to go back to 1986’s The Queen is Dead, but this just feels like back of a beermat writing. I don’t like the silly artwork on the cover and Who Will Protect Us from The Police is basically the same sentiment as live favourite Ganglord (which Morrissey helpfully accompanies with a montage of US police brutality).

 But I’ve known committed Morrissey despisers to hum Spent the Day in the Bed over the last few months, especially with the amount of airplay it has received (which surely even Morrissey couldn’t complain about), and All the Young People Must Fall In Love is a charming dismissal of world leaders (‘Presidents come, presidents go, And nobody remembers their name two weeks after they go’) interspersed with young love- ‘the kids around here have the best idea’. And there are many times on this album when Morrissey’s voice sounds truly magnificent- just listen to the final bars of Home is a Question Mark- he might not be breaking into falsetto anymore, but his voice has a strength and richness to it that is undiminished despite the rigours of endless touring and intermittent poor health. Second single Jacky’s Only Happy When She’s Up on Stage is a quirky, self-referencing exploration of how the allure of fame and adulation can make everyday life seem deceptively meaningless (‘Jacky cracks when she isn’t on stage’)-   and is another stomper. It might not have bellowing elephant calls but a killer chorus of ‘Exit! Exit! Everyone is heading for the exit!’ is guaranteed to get into your head – so take the easy way and give in.




LYN LOCKWOOD


Lyn Lockwood is a teacher and writer living in Sheffield. She has been listening to Morrissey since she first heard Reel Around the Fountain on John Peel  in 1980-something

Friday, 13 October 2017

Roxy Ball Room Nottingham REVIEW



There's a whole new ballgame in town and when we say it's called Roxy Ball Room - we don't mean you'll be needing your dancing shoes, neither.




With specially commissioned Jimi Hendrix graffiti-artwork decor, psychedelically-colourful Beer Pong tables plus pool and ping pong tables, Roxy Ball Room is like a kaleidoscopic, spaced-out-chilled-out grown-ups' playground, serving up a night of fun, games and various alcoholic concoctions.

Fast food grub is also available with the California Chicken burger our confidential fave, which washes down very nicely with a purdy pink Berry Smash, our signature cocktail of choice. Sharing trays, pizza, doughballs, mocktails and craft beers will keep you going or you can get up and go-go burn it all off ping-ponging.

Winning extra bonus points for the pretty frickin' awesome background music and outstanding service from the friendly staff and offering a wacky and welcome alternative to those too many two-a-penny sitting-in-a-corner-with-a-pint-with-nuffin-much-going-on places, confidentially, Roxy Ballroom shoots, scores and good and proper puts the ping and beer into your pong.

And you can see lots more photos of Roxy Ball Room in glorious technicolour on our Facebook page

Roxy Ball Room is at 10 Thurland Street. Full details and prices can be found on their website




Wednesday, 4 October 2017

Crazy For You At Nottingham Theatre Royal REVIEW




Loaded to the rafters with lashings of classic musical numbers, Crazy For You is a hybrid-Gershwin mash-up, a let's-put-the-show-on-right-here/mistaken identity kray-zee tale, punctuated by cracking oneliners, sight gags, physical jokes and some of the most sublime stage show songs of all time.

Achingly-beautifully voiced leading lady Charlotte Wakefield delivers mesmeric crystal-clear performances of Someone To Watch Over Me, Embraceable You and But Not For Me, transcending the silly-nonsense story all the way up to top quality theatre.

But the star of the show we've all come to see is Tom Chambers' moves- and boy, does he bring them, and loads of old Hollywood-stylee all over the dancefloor - and then some. Toe-twisting and slide-gliding with panther-like grace, he swoops, he soars, he scores and he dances with alpha-male ownage, leaping onto piano tops and nimbly clambering up nervewracking ladders and high platforms, whew.

The show slowly builds and then firmly finds its feet in the Act One climax performance of I Got Rhythm, a jaw-dropping, glorious, fantastical tangle of rootin' tootin' singing and tap dancing mixed up with (count 'em) QUADRUPLE threat musicians playing their instruments right dang in the middle of it all and with Tom Chambers dexterously playing drumsticks on the upturned feet of the dancing girls, it's the show-stopping musical money-number. Choreographer, take a bow.

Looking hot but not given enough to do is the woefully under-used former Strictly winner Caroline Flack, strangely denied any kind of killer dance-routine that we all know she could pull off, no sweat. And if only we could have seen Polly's mum dance on stage!

Cray-cray and cute, plucky, screwy and sunny, Crazy For You is a tonic of fun to warm you up in this chilly season. Confidentially, we recommend you go nuts fer it.



Crazy For You is at Nottingham Theatre Royal until 7th October 2017. For full details of show times and ticket prices can be found on the Theatre Royal website

Monday, 3 July 2017

Dinosaurs Of China Exhibition REVIEW


Photo copyright Laura Patterson  ©
Nottingham, get ready to stampede from here all the way to October to the most jaw-dropping Jurassic-tastic prehistoric fantastic beasts show not only right here in town but ONLY right here in town!
Mamenchisaurus copyright Laura Patterson  ©
With exhibits ranging from the massive and mighty Mamenchisaurus right down to the adorable little Mei Long dinosaur that's actually small enough to fit in the palm of your hand, the Dinosaurs Of China Exhibition is THE world-exclusive event of the summer. Spread over the two sites of Nottingham's Wollaton Hall and Lakeside Arts, the exhibition tells the story of how birds evolved from dinosaurs and features 26 specimens, 3D mounted skeletons, detailed replicas and original fossils.

Photo copyright Laura Patterson  ©

TV presenter, renowned naturalist and lifelong dinosaur fan Chris Packham is supporting the event. "I'm tremendously excited, there are some remarkable specimens here," he told us confidentially. "They've done such a brilliant job to get these specimens on loan. For me, it's all about transforming the way people perceive these ancient animals and I think that many people still think they were relatively unintelligent, slow-moving, cold-blooded, lizard-like things. They were none of those things, they were rapid, warm-blooded, social and feathered in many instances. This is about the science, this is about the real deal. And we've learned so much more in recent years and this is a great opportunity for the public to have their impressions updated.

Chris Packham copyright Laura Patterson  ©
"I think Wollaton Hall as a venue is fantastic, I like the mix of the old and the new, I'm a museum buff and I had an opportunity to look at their natural history collection, it's a remarkable collection of bird taxidermy and other mammals too. And this is a brilliant modern exhibit, it's got a narrative to it, it's got an overall purpose and the purpose is that you come here and from utilising the space and the specimens that have come all the way from China, you leave understanding that in fact, dinosaurs aren't extinct, they live on in the form of birds which are flying around outside."

Famous for quoting Smiths lyrics whilst presenting Springwatch on television, could Chris quote any dinosaur-relevant Smiths lyrics? "Well - of course, there would be Panic if any of these things were recreated and they were rampaging around, no doubt about that," he quips brilliantly straight away. "And downstairs in Wollaton Hall, there's no doubt that if the Sinraptor got its way, then it would be a case of Big Mouth Strikes Again. I could go on forever but I won't."

Photo copyright Laura Patterson  ©

Dr Adam Smith is the curator of the exhibition and the Nottingham Natural History Museum, and, with a lifelong interest in dinosaurs and fossils, he has even been involved in the naming of newly-discovered dinosaur species "I'm the main curator and there are two of us but it was actually Dr Wang Qi's idea to do this exhibition in the first place. He's a lecturer at Nottingham University in the architecture department and his background is in how museums use space to tell stories, so when he visited Wollaton Hall, he was surprised to find it's a Natural History Museum as well and it combines his two interests. So, five years ago, he came here and said, I've got this idea and through his connections in China, he was able to bring the Chinese dinosaurs and this is where we are now. Once the project started to get rolling, we worked together to select the objects and decided on the story we wanted to tell between us. It was quite complicated to organise but it's so rewarding to see the exhibition come together now."

Dr Adam Smith copyright Laura Patterson  ©
A concerted effort has been made to keep the entrance fee to the Wollaton Hall exhibition as affordable as possible whilst entrance to the Lakeside Arts exhibits is completely free. Family-friendly events, talks and workshops will also be taking place in conjunction with the exhibition.

The Dinosaurs Of China Ground Shakers To Feathered Flyers World Exclusive Exhibition is at Wollaton Hall and Lakeside Arts right now until 29 October 2017. Full details can be found on the official Dinosaurs of China website

And you can see lots more photos of the exhibition in glorious technicolour on our Nottingham Confidential Facebook page

Photo copyright Laura Patterson  ©



Monday, 19 June 2017

Aegon Open Nottingham Women's Tennis Final REVIEW


Donna Vekic, Aegon Open Nottingham Champion,  lifts the Elena Baltahca Trophy

Advantage Vekic

The Aegon Open Nottingham final ended with cordite hanging in the air following a shock victory in three sets by Donna Vekic over Johanna Konta.

This is the third season in the event’s present incarnation with Konta having made her debut here as a wild card in 2015 ranked 147 by the WTA. In between a semi-final in the Australian Open, a quarter-final in the Olympics and WTA premier wins have catapulted her both into the world’s top ten and -  not least following an outspoken appearance on Jonathan Ross – established her as a celebrity.

Arriving now as World No. 8 and facing an unfamiliar list of entrants, Konta had made smooth progress through to the final with her play attracting plaudits for its power and fluency. Expectation therefore on Sunday for the first WTA win by a British Woman on home soil since Sue Barker in Brighton 36 years ago were high.

However rankings have generally provided an unreliable yardstick for progress in Nottingham and in the striking form of Donna Vekic, Konta faced an opponent for whom the word combustible hardly does justice.

The World No. 70’s semi-final victory over the fancied Lucie Safarova was a three-set thriller characterised by dazzling stroke play interspersed with high drama. The Croatian has a natural sense of theatre which forms an integral part of her game.

In her Saturday evening performance, this found expression in her battling an internal monologue and exhibiting an emotional range that ran from ‘Theda Bara as Medusa’ glares at officials, to full on lung-busting rants sending the crowd scurrying to their phones to consult the Croatian option on Google translate.

The stage for Sunday’s final was set suitably for a diva therefore with a picture perfect Centre Court and blistering sun substitutes for a proscenium arch and klieg lights.

At first, the action appeared to be sticking to a predictable script with Vekic losing her opening service game and her confidence struggling in the face of Konta’s rhythmic, baseline power game. The first set dashed by 6-2.

Runner-up Johanna Konta
The second set appeared to be heading the same way when Vekic suddenly assumed the role of heroic underdog. Her gunnery and radar at last began functioning with 110mph serves and huge groundstrokes finding the lines. Konta had no immediate answer. Consistency started to desert the Brit and despite some canny improvisation - a series of drop shots on key points left the Croat looking like a giraffe slipping on a banana skin – Vekic’s momentum took her through to a second set tie-break win.

The Brit seemed to recover early in the third set but ultimately it was her and not Vekic’s frustration which told; the latest in a series of poor line decisions – an unhappy feature of this tournament -  leading to a heated haranguing of the umpire.

In a final twist, Vekic surrendered a 3-1 lead with a resurgent Konta breaking serve to first level then head into a 4-3 lead but Vekic kept her composure, broke back and served out at 6-5 bringing the curtain down on her second WTA win to generous applause.

This has been a pleasing week overall benefitting from – at last! - fine weather, a condensed format integrating several titles into seven days, high-profile players, entertaining finals and worthy champions. With attendances increasing, organisers would do well to secure further marquee names next year so as to guarantee the continuing success of Nottingham tennis well into the future.

EMIL KOWALSKI