Just last month, Arizona bound rock band The Maine released their first ever fully acoustic EP named Imaginary Numbers. Despite having just completed a world tour following the release of their fourth studio album, Forever Halloween in June, they’ve both recorded and produced this EP on their own, using a studio they built themselves. It’s safe to say that for their first acoustic EP, this record has been heavily anticipated, especially after Forever Halloween bought us a distinctive more grounded and sophisticated sound from the five piece band.
Imaginary Numbers gives us five songs – some of which derived from poems front man John O’Callaghan had previously written – that simply didn’t belong on their previous album or fit in with it’s sound. The result is a raw, laid back and truthful album that gives us a real look inside of the band’s minds. It was only with the release of These Four Words from Forever Halloween that John O’Callaghan admitted it was the most revealing song he has ever written, which is far cry from some of their other more pop punk singles such as Inside of You and Everything I Ask For. This EP has only delved further into his mind and created an honest and upfront image of the world – and love – from his point of view. It’s clear to see that as this band have grown up, so has their music.
This EP strips away all the preconceptions of what an album should have – if you’re expecting a mix of upbeat and inspiring songs, then this isn’t the EP for you. Instead it’s brutally honest and the fact that most of the songs were taken from what began as poems somewhat suggests that this EP wasn’t put out with the aim to earn money and gain record sales. It’s simply a gift to the fans; a full on and basic bunch of songs put together, something the band have perhaps enjoyed putting together in their own time and have just decided to share, as opposed to producing an album as a career move.
Raining in Paris is the first song on the album and lays the perfect foundation for the rest of the EP; it’s easy on the ears, the lyrics are thought provoking and just listening to it immediately relaxes you with it’s slow instrumentals and John’s soothing and beautiful vocals. A slight ode to Kennedy Curse from their last album I feel, this song has a slight country feel to it, which I think accurately represents some of the bands biggest influences.
Room With No Windows reminds me a lot of a song called Happy from their previous album, in that it’s a more upbeat tune and beat only to reveal much more when you listen to the lyrics. It’s not a happy song but it’s very easy to catch onto and sing along to. It has a very relaxed and acoustic vibe to it, with undertones suggesting that sitting around and sulking isn’t going to change your life if you’re not actually willing to get up and do anything about wanting that change.
Perfectly Out Of Key really stands out for me and is very powerful. Backed up by only beautiful piano keys, John sings about never necessarily fitting in; how everyone might feel a little different and weird sometimes but that despite the pressure of being expected to maybe be one person, you should be happy with who you are. He’s singing about how he’d much rather be different and view the world through his own eyes, with his own mind because even if it’s not necessarily right, it’s a lot easier than dealing with some of the bad stuff this world sometimes has to offer.
Another firm favourite of mine, Visions is a hauntingly beautiful ballad which is clearly the second part to These Four Words from their previous album. It tells the story of how he’s suffered a break up and as hard as he tries to get over it, he’s constantly reminded of that relationship; their story and their memories. Visions haunt him, but as much as he wants to move on, in some ways he likes having that reminder and might be ready to let go, but he doesn’t necessarily want to. It’s bittersweet in many ways. It’s a classic song that simply won’t get old and I feel that I’ll be listening to this in years to come. The simple but beautiful Harmonica solo adds further character to the song, and all you have to do is close your eyes and listen to the lyrics to this song to find yourself in John O’Callaghan’s shoes, remembering and having visions of your own past relationships too.
Lovely Sad again has a slight country feel to it and I love that it rounds up that similar feeling from what the first song brought to the EP, ending the release with such a natural progression that you could press repeat and listen to the whole thing all over again. Lovely Sad is also what provides the EP with it’s name and has some powerful lyrics, such as ‘what if’s and the should have’s, they start to eat my brain’ – another nod to one of the front man’s previous published poems. This is another sad song, but this time it isn’t disguised with a more happy tune. It’s not a sad tune per se, but it’s a beautiful song that successfully sums up the EP. It ends with the lyrics ‘we’re all sad, but to me we’re lovely sad’ which I suppose is a bittersweet feeling and a continuation on from the fact that we may be sad, but that’s okay, if somewhat lovely too.
The Maine have yet again impressed with their newest EP which is a small and honest stepping stone between albums. I hope they keep their upfront honesty displayed in this EP and their last album for whatever they plan to release next.
Milton Keynes Theatre announce its summer season of entertainment
Milton Keynes Theatre is delighted to announce its summer season of sensational entertainment!
Returning to the venue after a sell-out run in 2019 is the phenomenal Les Misérables, the musical often regarded as the most popular in the world. Cameron Mackintosh’s acclaimed production arrives in Milton Keynes on Tue 26 Apr for four weeks.
Northern Ballet share their take on the beloved literary classic The Great Gatsby from Tue 24 May, promising the most glamourous party in town.
From Mon 30 May, a whodunnit everyone can enjoy arrives fresh out the boardgame box and onto the stage. Cluedo is the new comedy thriller directed by Mark Bell, director of the award winning The Play That Goes Wrong, which will also be arriving in Milton Keynes on Mon 25 Jul.
Brining life and energy to the immortal songs of the late Jim Steinman and Meat Loaf is the rocking musical, Bat Out of Hell, from 14 June. With all the anthems you know and love, this show is set to be a crowd-pleaser for those inclined to rock ‘n’ roll.
From best-selling author David Walliams comes the Olivier nominated Billionaire Boy from Thu 30 Jun, a winner for the whole family!
Fancy yourself a decoder? Try to decipher the secrets, clues and riddles in The Da Vinci Code from Tue 12 Jul. The world premiere tour of the brand-new stage production stars Coronation Street’s Christopher Harper and Danny John-Jules (Red Dwarf, Death in Paradise).
Take a chance on the ultimate feel-good musical MAMMA MIA! as it returns to Milton Keynes on Tue 2 Aug. Set on a Greek island paradise, this musical is a story of love, friendship and identity, cleverly told through the timeless songs of ABBA. And from one musical legend to another, The Cher Show joins Milton Keynes Theatre from Tue 9 Aug. Get ready to Turn Back Time in this outrageous new musical directed by Arlene Phillips (Grease, Starlight Express) and choreographed by Strictly’s Oti Mabuse.
Willy Russell’s moving Liverpudlian tale, Blood Brothers, then takes to the stage from Tue 30 Aug. Few musicals have been received with such acclaim as this multi-award-winning production which surpassed 10,000 performances in London’s West End.
Milton Keynes will be screaming Go, Go, Go Joseph this September when the sensational new production of Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Joseph and The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat comes to the Milton Keynes Theatre for two weeks. The family musical which opens on Mon 12 Sep stars Alexandra Burke as the Narrator and Jac Yarrowas Joseph.
Milton Keynes Theatre continues its outstanding programme of one night entertainment this season. The hilarious Menopause the Musical 2 comes to the theatre on Sat 11 Jun. Enjoy an evening with world famous football manager Harry Redknapp on Tue 28 Jun. Strictly professionals Anton & Giovanni team up for an evening of song and dance with their show, Him and Me. And the tribute shows are back! For Rod Stewart fans there’s Some Guys Have All The Luck on Sun 31 Jul, and celebrating the music of Tina Turner is What’s Love Got To Do With It on Sun 4 Sep.
Ware Festival’s Rock in the Priory line up has been confirmed
After a two year break, Rock in the Priory 2022 is back and will be at its usual location on the Priory Island on Sunday, 17th July.
Showcase auditions were held at Southern Maltings on the April 10th and helped determine the line-up for the main event. The organisers are grateful to all the musicians who came along to perform.
The high standard of performances made the selection process difficult. The seven bands and three acoustic acts who will be entertaining the crowds on July 17th are listed below.
Quivering Lip are a two-piece originals and cover band playing rock and brit pop anthems. Quivering Lip wrote and recorded their first 5 track album Generation Panic in 2018, following it up with a new release “Ashes” in April 2019.
Uptown Punk are a high energy, 5-piece pop/punk band, covering fan favourites from 90s to present. Their set is full of well known pop/punk tunes, with a bit of Rock thrown in. Artists covered include; Blink 182, Green Day, The Offspring, Foo Fighters, Sum 41 and many more.
Grace is a singer, pianist and songwriter based in Hertfordshire specialising in acoustic pop, golden oldies, jazz and much more. Take a moment to listen/watch her Thinking Out Loud cover.
Other artists performing at Ware Festival’s Rock in the Priory include Adam Fearn, Mr No Face, Back to the 50s, George Croucher, Junkyard Dolls, Second Bite, The Routine.
Ware Festival and Rock in the Priory
The last Rock in the Priory was held in 2019. This annual event is known for its excellent atmosphere and energy. It takes place in the unique setting of the Island bandstand, nestled within seven acres of picturesque riverside gardens of the 14th century Ware Priory building. Tickets in advance are £5 entry or a family ticket at £15 for two adults and up to four children. Further details about Ware Festival and Rock in the Priory can be found on rockinthepriory.co.uk
The Cher Show UK Tour is coming to Milton Keynes Theatre
The producers of the brand-new production of The Cher Show are delighted to announce that the role of Cher will be played by Debbie Kurup, Danielle Steers and Millie O’Connell. The production features the actresses portraying Cher in three different ways throughout her iconic career, with Debbie as ‘Star’, Danielle as ‘Lady’ and Millie as ‘Babe’. Further casting is to be announced.
With book by Tony and Olivier Award-winning Rick Elice (Jersey Boys, The Addams Family, Peter and the Starcatcher), direction by Arlene Phillips (Saturday Night Fever, Starlight Express, Grease), choreography by Oti Mabuse (two-time Strictly Come Dancingchampion) and costume design by Gabriella Slade (Six, In The Heights, Spice World 2019 Tour), the UK & Ireland Tour will open at Leicester’s Curve on 15 April 2022 and will continue through to 1 April 2023.
The Cher Show cast reveal
Debbie Kurup’s theatre credits include Bonnie & Clyde (Theatre Royal, Drury Lane), Queen Tuya in The Prince of Egypt (Dominion), Blues in the Night (Kiln), Sweet Charity (Donmar Warehouse), Mrs Neilsen in Girl From The North Country (Old Vic/ Noël Coward), The Threepenny Opera (NT), Anything Goes (Sheffield Crucible/UK Tour), Nikki Marron in The Bodyguard (Adelphi – Olivier Award nomination for Best Performance in a Supporting Role in a Musical), Velma Kelly in Chicago (Cambridge/Adelphi), Sister Act (London Palladium), East (Leicester Curve), West Side Story (Prince of Wales), Tonight’s The Night (Victoria Palace), Rent (Prince of Wales/UK Tour), Fame (UK Tour), Guys And Dolls (Sheffield Crucible), Pal Joey (Chichester) and Boogie Nights (Savoy).
Danielle Steers’s theatre credits include The Empress in Aladdin (Theatre Royal, Plymouth), Catherine Parr in Six The Musical (London), Zahara in the original cast of Bat out of Hell: The Musical (Manchester Opera House, London Coliseum, Ed Mirvish Theatre, Toronto, Dominion Theatre, New York City Centre), Carmen in Sweet Charity(Donmar Warehouse), Lead Shirelle in the original London cast of Beautiful – The Carole King Musical (Aldwych Theatre), swing and cover Nikki Marron in The Bodyguard (Adelphi Theatre) and cover Killer Queen in We Will Rock You (International Arena Tour). Her debut album, The Future Ain’t What It Used To Be, was released in 2021.
Millie O’Connell’s theatre credits include Maureen in Rent (Hope Mill Theatre – WOS Award Nomination), Jeanie in Hair (Turbine Theatre), Chloe Valentine in Be More Chill(Shaftesbury Theatre and The Other Palace), Anne Boleyn in SIX: The Musical (UK Tour and Arts Theatre, London – Olivier Award nominated), Ensemble/cover Millie in Thoroughly Modern Millie (UK Tour), Ensemble/Understudy Annie in 42nd Street (Theatre Royal, Drury Lane), Ensemble/Understudy Peggy Sawyer in 42nd Street (Theatre Du Chatelet).
About The Cher Show
From a young child with big dreams, the shy daughter of an Armenian American truck driver, to the dizzying heights of global stardom, The Cher Show tells the incredible story of Cher’s meteoric rise to fame. Cher takes the audience by the hand and introduces them to the influential people in her life, from her mother and Sonny Bono, to fashion designer and costumier Bob Mackie. It shows how she battled the men who underestimated her, fought the conventions and, above all, was a trailblazer for independence.
The musical is packed with 35 of her biggest hits, including ‘If I Could Turn Back Time’, ‘I Got You Babe’, ‘Strong Enough’, ‘The Shoop Shoop Song’ and ‘Believe’.
The Cher Show UK & Ireland Tour will have set design by Tom Rogers, musical supervision by Rich Morris, lighting design by Ben Cracknell, sound design by Dan Samson, music production by Gary Hickeson, wigs, hair and make-up design by Sam Cox, associate direction by James Cousins, associate choreography by James Bennett and casting by Will Burton CDG.
The Cher Show UK & Ireland Tour is produced by ROYO with Fiery Angel, Cuffe & Taylor/LIVE NATION and Playing Field in association with Tilted, Aria Entertainment and JONES Theatrical Group.
The Cher Show at Milton Keynes Theatre
Performances: Tues 9 to Sat 13 Aug, 2:30pm and 7:30pm
Tickets: From £13*
General bookings: 0844 871 7615*
Access bookings: 0333 009 5399
Group bookings: 0207 206 1174
Online Booking: ATGTICKETS.COM/MiltonKeynes*