LINKS in green throughout – with songs to Youtube versions, with concerts, plays and films to the reviews on this blog
2014 is a slightly different year with more theatre than usual, but fewer concerts and a lot fewer films. Almost no TV. Theatre is the bit I enjoy most, though film and concerts get far more hits. But it’s also a year where the first choices in every category picked themselves with little thought needed. I published the first version in early December, but The Knight of the Burning Pestle seen on December 14th demands inclusion under theatre. As for music, anything new found between now and Christmas won’t have time to really sink in for comparison.
Only one per artist, otherwise Natalie Merchant might get three entries and Beverley Martyn and Simone Felice the same. Linked where possible
1) Ladybird – Natalie Merchant (with Simi Stone)
Linked to YouTube official video
Nick Drake / Beverley Martyn composition
3) The Gallows – Simone Felice
Link is to a live version
iTUNES MOST PLAYED
Looking at iTunes, there is a certain amount of objectivity there, hence the separate list. It’s affected by my iPad, recording my final 30 to 40 minutes on headphones before I go to sleep, which is why (for example) three tracks in actual album sequence from Natalie Merchant are on there. I find Beverley Martyn particularly relaxing. Of course being released earlier boosts position.
1) Reckless Jane – Beverly Martyn
2) Wrecking Ball – Hard Working Americans
3) Potter’s Blues – Beverley Martyn
4) Labour She Calls Home – Seth Lakeman
5) Going to Germany – Beverley Martyn
6) Ladybird – Natalie Merchant
7) Maggie Says – Natalie Merchant
8) Go Down Moses – Natalie Merchant
10) The Gallows – Simone Felice
I look at Mojo and Uncut’s fifties, curated by a large staff, and I’ve heard of almost nothing on there. That’s HEARD OF not HEARD. Add Amazon’s Top 10 and Resident Records in Brighton and more. There is consistency. The Top Two records are Morning Phase by Beck and Lost In The Dream by War On Drugs. No, I haven’t heard either, just odd tracks (but I will). I heard nothing to change my opinion. So this is my list based on the tiny section that I’ve heard. I buy far too many albums – two a week probably, maybe more with deep archive releases, but I stick to certain areas.
1) Natalie Merchant: Natalie Merchant
2) The Phoenix & The Turtle: Beverley Martyn
3) Strangers – Simone Felice
4) Popular Problems – Leonard Cohen
5) Word of Mouth – Seth Lakeman
6) Revival – Bellowhead
7) Croz – David Crosby
8) No Fools, No Fun – Puss ‘n’ Boots
9) Let’s Start Again – Bap Kennedy
A last minute entry. He supported Simone Felice, and I bought the CD at the gig.
1) The Basement Tapes Complete – Bob Dylan & The Band (6 CDs)
2) Manfred Mann EP Collection (7 CDs)
3) The Action Singles Box Set (vinyl 45s)
4) The Creation Singles Box Set (vinyl 45s)
5) Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons The Classic Albums box
LINK here to You and I Belong from the Swiss Cottage Sessions (i.. this gig) Dark, but sound is fine.
5) Seth Lakeman
7) Fay Hield & The Hurricane Party
8) Suzanne Vega
10) Spiers & Boden
BEST SUPPORT ACT:
Dan Whitehead (supporting Simone Felice)
THEATRE – CLASSICAL
None of my selections in this category are in The Telegraph’s Top Five, though the Globe Comedy of Errors is 2nd in their “Worst of 2014” category. It was my number ten under “best” but gets relegated because The Knight of The Burning Pestle in December had to be included.
Much Ado About Nothing (aka Love’s Labour’s Won) gets in twice. So does ‘Tis Pity She’s A Whore.
1 & 1 =) Directed by Christopher Luscombe
You need to see the two plays together. One is set in 1914 just as WW1 starts, the other set in 1918 just after it ends. This is one year where I didn’t have to agonize about the top slot. The runaway winner as play(s) of the year.
3) Anthony & Cleopatra – Globe
Directed by Jonathan Munby
Until we saw the above, this was running in clear first place.
4) Henry IV – Part One – RSC
Directed by Greg Doran
5) Titus Andronicus – Globe
Directed by Lucy Bailey
6) The Knight of The Burning Pestle– Wanamaker’s Playhouse
7) Much Ado About Nothing – Globe
Directed by Max Webster
8) = Tis Pity She’s A Whore – Cheek by Jowl
Directed by Declan Donnellan
8) = Tis Pity She’s A Whore -Wanamaker
Directed by Michael Longhurst
10) Arden of Faversham – RSC
Directed by Polly Findlay
11) Comedy of Errors – Globe
Directed by Blanche McIntyre
This was number ten when the list was first published, but gets knocked out of the ten by the late addition of The Knight of The Burning Pestle (with several of the same cast). But having been in, it deserves an unprecedented 11th place!
The Telegraph’s Top Five of 2014 had just one of my choices, The Crucible at #3 which is the same position, and put King Charles III (also reviewed on this blog first).
I read back over my reviews. Memories of the productions vary but in the first draft, I was surprised to find myself choosing a Rattigan play. It slipped in the first draft at #10, but on re-reading, I remembered so much detail so well that it got promoted. Good to see a small provincial theatre company in among the big ones.
1) Shakespeare in Love – Noel Coward Theatre, London
Directed by Declan Donnellan
2) Amadeus – Chichester Festival Theatre
Directed by Jonathan Church
3) The Crucible– Old Vic
Directed by Yael Farber
4) Separate Tables – Salisbury Playhouse
Directed by Gareth Machin
5) Fortunes Fool – Old Vic
Directed by Lucy Bailey
6) Black Comedy – Minerva Theatre Chichester
Directed by Jamie Glover
It was in a double bill with Miss Julie. I didn’t like Miss Julie much. It should have been done on its own, or with something more sympathetic.
7) A View From The Bridge – Young Vic
Directed by Ivo Van Hove
8) Skylight – Wyndham’s
Directed by Stephen Dalty
9) Mojo – Harold Pinter Theatre
Directed by Ian Rickson
10) Gypsy – Chichester Festival Theatre
Directed by Jonathan Kent
BEST THEATRE ACTRESSES OF THE YEAR:
1) Eve Best in Anthony & Cleopatra – Globe
2) Imelda Staunton in Gypsy
4) Carey Mulligan in Skylight
5) Emma Pallent in Much Ado About Nothing – Globe
BEST THEATRE ACTORS OF THE YEAR:
I nearly chose him two years ago for his role in School for Scandal at Bath.
2) Richard McCabe in Fortunes Fool
3) Jamie Glover in An Ideal Husband
4) Joshua McGuire in Amadeus
5) Richard Armitage in The Crucible
THEATRE OF THE YEAR
Chichester Festival Theatre for sheer consistency. Three in the Top Ten modern, and An Ideal Husband nearly got in too. From An Ideal Husband review:
Chichester has had a wonderful season, its first since rebuilding. Its plentiful loos are an example to every theatre in the country. It’s great to stroll out onto the grass parkland behind between acts. It’s right by a huge car park. The new coffee bars are first rate. The large and efficient Brasserie does an excellent pre-theatre meal. Thinking back to the plays we saw, Amadeus, Miss Julie, The Black Comedy, Gypsy, Pitcairn and An Ideal Husband I’d also say they had the most consistent quality of the major seasons this year.
The only one of my Top 10 in The Telegraph’s Top 5 is 12 Years A Slave (my #3, their #4). The Wolf of Wall Street (their #5) is also reviewed on this blog.
6) Jersey Boys
10) American Hustle
We watched very little TV this year, preferring films on DVD. Last year’s Peaky Blinders failed to hold us for the second series, which we thought a great disappointment.
starring Sheridan Smith
She’s gorgeous. If we had had a “Best Actress” category last year under theatre, she would have walked it for Titania in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Yes, she sings as well as Cilla Black, but even more she sings the rock stuff we know Cilla sang before she was discovered, but which never got recorded. Attention to detail is fantastic. Look at The Big Three playing at The Cavern. Then go and get the EP sleeve of The Big Three At The Cavern. The stances, stage positions and guitar models are all perfect.
Big School – Second Series
The winner for the second year. A caveat- in a “gang show” you shouldn’t be dropping major characters from episodes – no drama teacher in Ep 5 or 6 and no Luke the music teacher in Ep 6. Were they trying to save money? But Walliams and Tate are a brilliant pairing and Frances Le Tour as the headmistress is great. Episode 2 with the new blind geography teacher is the one to watch.