Monday, July 30, 2007

Two more

The Dilettante thanks her London correspondant for these two clips:

Martin Short as Jerry Lewis in Ingmar Bergman's Scenes from an Idiot's Marriage:

And SCTV's Monster Chiller Horror Theater presents Ingmar Burgman's Whispers of the Wolf:

Two less

Ingmar Bergman, who died today, was one of my favorite directors, both in film and theater. His movies are so well known that there's no point in even trying to explain why he was the last of the great. Even though I'm an atheist, his thorny relationship with god thrilled me—it remains rare to see an artist unafraid to tackle the metaphysical, and man's struggle to make sense of it all. I still vividly remember seeing Through a Glass Darkly while a student in Paris, and coming out of the theater with both a pounding headache and a knot in my stomach. And he was a perhaps even stage director: Seeing his King Lear at the Théâtre de l'Odéon in the mid-’80s was a shock to my personal system (I started uncontrollably sobbing just looking at the stage, before the actors had exchanged a single word!). Looking back on it, I think that's when my allegiance switched from film to theater. Let's send him off on a uncharacteristic note of levity—an utter lack of humor is one of the things I actually liked best about IB: no compromise—as French and Saunders lovingly send up the master here.

The other loss looks "minor" compared to Bergman, but Michel Serrault was the very definition of character actor, offering a series of memorable turns in that much neglected category. In France he achieved his legendary status when he starred in La Cage aux folles, written by and costarring his buddy Jean Poiret. (The two had formed a classic comedy team and had performed the original play version of La Cage more than 1,500 in the 1970s, before it was turned into a movie.) He was such a habitual, familiar presence that French cinema without him will be like a house from a which a beloved armchair has been removed, leaving a dustless imprint to mark the spot. Le Monde has a nice video tribute here.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Mind expansion

The 61st edition of the Avignon Festival has just ended—not that you'd know the three-week event had happened at all by reading the US press. That's okay I guess: Avignon is only one of the largest theater festivals in the world. That's probably why for the past several days the Times' chief critic, Ben Brantley, has been blogging about his theater marathon in London; typically, it started off with a show starring Orlando Bloom. Meanwhile, Avignon has presented productions staged by the likes of Frank Castorf, Ariane Mnouchkine, Rodrigo Garcia, Sasha Waltz and Romeo Castellucci. And that's only the ones who might ring a bell among NYC theater freaks. I mean, just look at the photo on the left: Doesn't it make you want to see more? At least you will be able to for this particular one: It's from Castellucci's show, Hey Girl!, which is coming to Montclair in February.

What's frustrates me is this lack of inquisitiveness about what's happening in the field you're meant to be covering. If you're going to spend some time across the Atlantic, wouldn't it make sense to also cross the Channel and poke around? Wouldn't you be the least bit curious? Wouldn't you want to experience theater that's completely different from what we see here, instead of just a more competent version of our regular fare? (For make no mistake, that's what London offers.) Reading the Times, you would never know that in the past 10, 15 years, an entire generation of directors has rethought European theater, and that a new generation is now coming up to scramble up the parameters all over again.

Compare this attitude with The New Yorker's Alex Ross, who regularly covers a wide geographical area. Typically, he just wrote a piece about a new opera titled Alice in Wonderland that just premiered in Munich (check out the mouth-watering video here). What's great about the article is how Ross translates the appeal of the production for the likes of me, someone with an interest in the field but who isn't a hardcore buff. He also makes it very clear why covering this type of show is important not only for American readers, but for the health of the American opera scene itself.

Screwball this!

Right after seeing Shaw's The Millionairess, I read David Denby's New Yorker piece on romantic and screwball comedies. It has already elicited quite a few reactions, including this one underlining a queer reading of the older movies and a lengthy back-and-forth on Emdashes (heh…though it did lead me to Katha Pollitt's blog post about Knocked Up).

What particularly rankled me in Denby's piece is his assertion that "Romantic comedy is entertainment in the service of the biological imperative. The world must be peopled." (This last line fished in Much Ado About Nothing.)

Say what? Denby must have drank quite a potent cocktail of crazy because this line of inquiry is nuts. In case we didn't get it the first time around, he quickly confirms it: "Romantic comedy civilizes desire, transforms lust into play and ritual—the celebration of union in marriage."

If there's one reason to like classic "romcoms," it's because the reproductive instinct never seemed to enter the equation, and lust never felt as if it depended on marriage. Marriage was something the characters seemed to enter on a whim, and they'd leave it just as quickly; it was a formality. This is one of the (many) reasons these movies are so popular among gays: They didn't treat the heterosexual institution like some semi-saintly, carved in stone, now and forever status. The best comedies of the 30s and 40s turned sex into wordplay and vice versa, and this liberation from the boring missionary impulses of the hinterlands was shown not only as a source of great fun, but as the right, enviable thing to do.

The hinterlands, by the way, were depicted, via the Ralph Bellamy characters, as embodying all-American squareness and dullness. Those were the days when it was okay to mock hicks from, say, Arkansas or Oklahoma, no matter how rich and well-meaning they were. They may have been carrying both cash and wedding rings, but they still had no clue. Now, the country is where urbanites go to find their true selves. I don't see current comedies (the ones created by a supposedly elitist Hollywood) treating either NASCAR fans or the owners of suburban McMansions with this kind of derision, although they should—it's high time someone sent up this dumbfounding inanity.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

A Shaw thing

It is red-faced at my own tardiness that I finally get around to plugging Project Shaw, in which the Gingold Theatrical Group (named after Hermione, of course) and producer-director David Staller stage readings of every single one of George Bernard Shaw's plays, no matter how minor. This admirable endeavor started in January ’06 and Staller—the soul behind it all—has put on 18 plays so far, each for the humble ticket price of $15. Even better, some of New York's most formidable thespians are lending a hand—along with some of New York's most formidable theater scribes, including TONY's own David Cote and Adam Feldman.

It was Mr. Feldman's guest appearance as "the Manager" in 1935's The Millionairess (and the mouth-watering rumor that this was the playwright's attempt at screwball comedy) (and the fact that I finally remembered to write down the damn thing on my calendar) that prompted me to catch my first Project Shaw this past Monday.

Mr. Feldman was so magnetic in his brief scene, his (Irish?) accent so unerring that I blanked out the rest of the evening. Some of the other people crowding the stage included, if I remember correctly, Tyne Daly, her one-time Herbie (when she did Gypsy on Broadway) Jonathan Hadary, Rebecca Luker and Daniel Jenkins (the latter two on their night off from Mary Poppins, where they play the Bankses). The play itsef was little more than a period curio, but all the more precious for its delicious datedness. Now I have to go back for a show with Mr. Cote!

Project Shaw is taking a break in August, when its home, the Players on Gramercy Park South, closes. The next performance is Man and Superman on September 17—but are they going to do the lengthy "Don Juan in Hell" act? Note to David Staller: This might be a fine opportunity for TONY's dynamic duo. I'm just sayin'. In the meantime, check out their Sitemeter-busting vlog.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Speaking too soon

I really should have kept my big trap shut: The first three shows I saw at Lincoln Festival 2007 were excellent, but the next two…maybe I jinxed myself.

The nadir was De Monstruos y Prodigios. This Mexican production about the history of castrati was one of the worst things I've seen in the past few years. It was the worst combination possible: Jorge Kuri's amateurish text regurgitated facts and anecdotes, while director Claudio Valdès Kuri threw every pseudo-avant gimmick he had at us. Why was Napoleon riding circles on a horse (a real one)? The play's title obviously comes from Dr. Ambroise Paré 16th-century book Des monstres et prodiges, which dealt with "monsters" such as siamese twins, but was it a reason to make him half of the pair of siamese twins that narrates the story? Add to that a lead castrato played by what sounded suspiciously like a tenor singing in falsetto as opposed to a real countertenor, resulting in hideous screeching. (The fact that the woman sitting behind me had thought it'd be a great idea to cover her forearms with jingly-jangly bracelets added even more aggravation to the evening.) Life is just too short for this nonsense.

I did not care much for Heisei Nakamura-za's Hokaibo because the piece's broad humor felt at odd with kabuki aesthetics and formal vocabulary. The production felt jarring to me, but I'm far from being an expect in that theatrical particular tradition. I just don't find jokes about James Bond and ham-handed audience interaction that funny. Only at sporadic intervals (a pose frozen in cross-eyed ferocity, for instance) did the show hint at what could have been—and what was when Heisei Nakamura-za last hit town, three years ago.

Ah well, you can't win every time—something also demonstrated by my ongoing catching-up with The Wire on DVD. Contrary to the prevailing critical winds, the third season has failed to impress so far. Too many characters means that they don't get the kind of in-depth treatment the less-crowded first and second seasons allowed.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Uptown harvest

I've quite enjoyed the three shows I've seen so far at the Lincoln Center Festival. At this rate 2007 may be my favorite edition, and I've been in town for almost all of them.

The award for best surprise goes to Fables de La Fontaine. I had pretty much dismissed Robert Wilson (see my account of Quartett for the latest entry in an alarmingly long list of frustrating experiences) and went mainly to hear the classic text enunciated by actors from the Comédie-Française. The thing with Wilson is that at this point, he has a one-style-fits-all approach; when it doesn't fit the material, you're in for hours of stylish ennui, but when it does, the results are spectacular and completely unique—for better or for worse, you immediately know when you're watching a Wilson show. Miraculously, his style meshed perfectly with the wicked cruelty of La Fontaine's fables, in which animals act out short morality tales. (I won't soon forget Wolf's red, red tongue flicking out in gleeful anticipation at the sight of hapless Lamb.) For once, Wilson's hieratic, emotionless staging brought out subtext instead of flattening everything in sight. As an added bonus, I was lucky to attend one of the performances in which the Comédie-Française's big boss, Muriel Mayette, appeared (she was replacing the injured Madeleine Marion).

I was also impressed by Gemelos (pictured), brought to us by the Chilean Compañia Teatro Cinema. The play is based on Agota Kristof's The Notebook, the first in a trilogy (which I actually read about ten years ago) set in an unnamed post-WWII communist country, likely to be Kristof's own Hungary. While I was surprised at first by the production's warm visual tones (I tend to associate the Iron Curtain with a gray palette), the staging's inventiveness quickly became evident. The three actors evolved in what looked like a puppet theater and used stylized movement and perspective tricks to draw us into Kristof's increasingly sinister story. Shades of Shockheaded Peter and various other productions from the Improbable Company in the treatment, and I loved the way the show's darkness so gradually set in.

The most radical show so far was Un Hombre que se Ahoga, an adaptation of Chekhov's Three Sisters by a Buenos Aires company. Director Daniel Veronese (whose Women Dreamt Horses I kick myself for missing at PS 122 a few months ago) basically gave the play the kind of treatment people in cardiac arrest get on ER: two paddles to the chest and ZAP! His note in the program explains "It is a play without cuts in time or space; without music or light cues; with a summarized text; with modified scenes, their location shifted; and with characters wandering around, sometimes in improper situations."

Oh god…

But wait, that's not all! Veronese also effected a "change in gender of each one of Chekhov's characters. There are now three brothers confined in a house surrounded by military women."

It took me a little while to get used to the reversal—the men were not playing women in drag but men, ie Masha, Olga and Irina were dudes' names, while Andrei was a female character. Once you accepted the premise—and why not?—and the fact that this would be a radical jumble of Three Sisters, the production proved surprisingly enjoyable; it helped that the actors (wearing their regular street clothes) were superb throughout, with special kudos for Pablo Messiez' impetuously slackerish Natasha and Claudio Da Passano's hangdog, world-weary Olga.

Perhaps the prospect of extreme deconstruction—read: boring—scared off local theatergoers, since there were plenty of empty seats at the performance I attended. Too bad: Far from being a sterile, barren academic jerk-off, the show was gloriously physical and surprisingly accessible, and at 90 minutes, a quick and efficient punch. It made me ponder once again the sad state of experimentation when it comes to NYC companies.

Cherry on the cake: At the post-performance Q&A, the audience (mostly Spanish-speaking) fired off at the actors some of the most thoughtful, articulate questions I've ever heard at any of these events. You reap what you sow…

Letting me down gently

I'm finally getting to dealing with the long-awaited weekend, which has come and gone. Did it measure up to my expectations?

My colleague Steve Smith wrote about last Friday night's Immortal show on his blog, and I agree with pretty much everything, including the pungency of the air in the venue and the observation that "the band got the job done." To me, the show lacked that intengible bit of ooomph that would have made it transcendent. (It didn't help that after a while, Abbath starts sounding like a burping toad.) Let's put it this way: It was good, but it wasn't evil, the way 1349 was a few months ago.

The audience was also red-hot with eager anticipation—but easier on the nose—the following night at City Center. The subtitle of the evening might as well have been: The Best Musical Ever with the Star Who Was Born to Be in It. In other words, we were there to see Patti LuPone play Mama Rose in Gypsy.

My colleague Adam Feldman raves about the show in TONY, and I agree with quite a few of his observations (especially how great Laura Benanti is). But to me the production misses transformative transcendence by a mile. Some of it has to do with the insane level of expectation, something I was as guilty as everybody else. But there's no helping Arthur Laurents' perfunctory staging. It's a textbook illustration of the fact that being close to the material—and Laurents, who wrote Gypsy's book, is as close as can be—may not be a good thing when it comes to translating it to the stage.

Here's what I'd love to see but never will, or at least not while Laurents is alive, and not until New York producers grow some balls: Go dark on Gypsy. And I don't mean call Sam Mendes—no, go real dark and give the show to Ivo van Hove or Thomas Ostermeier. Let them dynamite Gypsy to reveal the negative force that sucks everything into its ashen vortex: Let Rose be a real monster, without sugarcoating her by unearthing flickering embers of warmth or suggesting that deep inside she does mean well.

When Baby June grows up and still does her same old kiddie number, Rose should be the selfish, manipulative creator of a creepy adult JonBenet. When the troupe ends up at the burlesque house, the strippers should be run-down hags shooting heroin, and when Rose pimps out Louise to a stripping career, it should look like a mother selling her daughter into white slavery.

Gypsy should be more than drama, for in that case drama is the spoonful of sugar that makes the medicine go down for wimpy theatergoers. No, Gypsy should be staged like the tragedy it really is. And I say, bring it on!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Old times' sake

A short review in Time Out of the reissue of early material by the wondrous Barbara Manning. Collecting Lately I Hear Scissors and One Perfect Green Blanket plus previously unreleased early songs, the new three-CD set is out on Rainfall, aka Pat Thomas (who used to run Heyday, the label that released these records to begin with). Listening to these CDs really brought me back to the late 80s/early 90s glory days of American indie rock—uncoincidentally, perhaps, also the time when I was settling in the US; the two remains inextricably linked for me. The difference between then and now isn't so much in the music per se (I hate it when people wax poetic about some glorified olden times when everything sounded better) as in the way we discovered it. The process required curiosity, determination, patience and a certain amount of detective skills. Perhaps it led to a different kind of identification with a band. It certainly made things more difficult for the bands themselves, at least in terms of pure logistics.

Elsewhere in TONY, you can peek at my slide show documenting the transformation of Avery Fisher Hall into a kabuki theater for performances by the Heisei Nakamura-za troupe. Their show three years ago was eye-opening (and eye-popping), so I'm looking forward to the new one. Especially since as far as what I've seen so far, Lincoln Center Festival 2007 is three for three. More on that in a further post.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Zany zounds of zummer

Every country has its parodic tradition, but in France this often results in monster hit songs. In 2002 for instance, comedian Michaël Youn scored with the fictitious Bratisla Boys, a spoof of Eastern European boy bands, and their megahit "Stach Stach." Last year, he created the hugely popular Fatal Bazooka, which mostly parodies rap and ragga, shooting them down with the subtlety of the titular weapon. One of Fatal Bazooka's best tricks is to dismantle its targets' vulgarity and/or self-importance by transposing their tropes to different settings—the French Alps seem to be a favorite—and displaying decidedly normal bodies.

In "Trankillement," for instance, Young and his crew underscore the fatuity of American hip-hop videos, from their casual sexism to their gross materialism, by moving the action to a rural and small-town set, using small Euro cars instead of bloated SUVs, and backyard wet slides instead of MTV beach-house glittering pools. And all on a ten-euro budget, of course.

In "J'aime trop ton boule" (the previous single from Fatal's 2006 album, T'as vu?), Youn sends up ragga's hypermasculinity and its tortured relationship with homosexuality—as in, a lot of these dudes are completely repulsed by it but they spend all their time preening for other guys like peacocks on parade. Youn just takes that attitude to its logical conclusion. Stick with it: The video looks like standard t&a (well, almost standard—the Weird Al vibe is pretty strong!) for the first minute. Then TV personality Magloire enters as the lust interest, the jackhammer comes out and…yeah, it goes downhill again.

Catchy, uh? Now you can sing along!

MP3 Fatal Bazooka "J'aime trop ton boule" (from T'as vu?, 2006)
MP3 Fatal Bazooka "Trankillement" (from T'as vu?, 2006)

Wednesday, July 11, 2007


Yes, it's that time of the year again: Bastille Day (aka le 14 juillet) approaches. I'll talk about trends in current French pop on WNYC's Soundcheck sometime after 2pm on Thursday 12. Alas, I probably won't have time to play many songs; depending on what makes it to the air, I'll post a few different ones here. Watch this space.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Name calling

In his NY Times column on Friday, Clyde Haberman discussed a new study showing that in seven states (but the trend is likely to be national), schools are (re)named "not for people but rather for animals, lakes, hills and other features of nature. (…) Historical figures have taken it on the chin, especially American presidents." In Fayetteville, Arkansas, for instance, Jefferson Elementary School became Owl Creek.

I'm already frustrated by the fact that too many American streets tend to be named after numbers, trees or a relatively small pool of people (JFK, MLK, Roosevelt, etc.), so it saddens me to see schools identified via ever-more bland monikers. Wouldn't it be a lot more fun to have Gertrude Stein High and George Kaufman Middle School? Here in New York, we do have many streets named after locals, but they tend to be honorary names, not the actual street names.

In France we of course have tons of middle and high schools named after various kings, generals, Jeanne d'Arc or De Gaulle. But plenty of others are named after writers (Corneille, Alexandre Dumas, Stéphane Mallarmé, Alphonse Daudet), scientists (Buffon, Pasteur), artists (Picasso, Ingres) and, this being France, philosophers (Michel Montaigne, Henri Bergson, Montesquieu, Jean-Jacques Rousseau). And let's not forget singers (Jacques Brel, Georges Brassens) and at least one comedian (Coluche)

And then there are the ones after regional figures: In Corsica, where I grew up, the local giants—Pascal Paoli and Napoléon—of course have schools named after them. Other choices dig deeper into local lore: I attended the Lycée Giocante de Casabianca, which is named after the son of 18th-century Corsican Navy officer (and representative to the Convention Assembly) Luce de Casabianca; both were killed by the British during the battle of Aboukir. Turns out there's even a British poem about Giocante's heroic death. I mean, WTF?!?

All this to say that naming a school after writers and poets and artists helps a nation remember what's important in life, and where it came from. Obviously it has the potential to be perceived by some as divisive but you build a country by rallying around its artists, writers and scientists. Of course, I realize I'm hopelessly old-school and old-world in thinking like this…

Thursday, July 05, 2007

A cold wind blowing down

It's not that long since my last Swedish post but what can I say, it's Pavlovian: I'm drawn to Swedish music. Doesn't matter if it's mainstream or obscure—I love it all. And so in addition to gigabytes of new discoid acts, I end up with, say, a box set of Agnetha Fältskog solo albums or archival recordings of never-were proto-doom bands . The latest arrivals on my player are the two-CD set Svensk Postpunk (Klassiker) and the reissue of the one and only full-length by 1970s hard-rocking combo Solid Ground (Mellotronen). Sigh…

I have to admit I was initially disappointed by Svensk Postpunk because save for a few exceptions the overall vibe is closer to Echo and the Bunnymen, Joy Division and early Cold Wave than Kleenex or Gang of Four. But after getting back in touch with my inner goth, I was able to enjoy the music; even better, the only band I already knew in the batch was Leather Nun, and so the compilation is an ear-opening introduction to a specific little music niche.

Stockholm combo Kitchen and the Plastic Spoons certainly counts as a real discovery, for instance, and so I ordered the recent CD collection of its entire output from Aquarius. Göteborg's Camouflage really reminds me of Xymox, a band I hadn't really thought about in a while; relistening to its 4AD oeuvre, however, made me realize it has aged rather gracefully—like quite a bit of gothy stuff, come to think of it. Are we due for a revival? Fortunately, the Swedish Punk site helped with a crash course on some of the bands—turns out Tant Strul was one of the very few girl groups on the scene for instance.

MP3 Camouflage "Syster Sol" (1985)
MP3 Ståålfågel "En dag i varuhuset" (1980)
MP3 Kitchen and the Plastic Spoons "Liberty" (1981)
MP3 Tant Strul "Amason" (1983)

Solid Ground was a short-lived combo from Stockholm that released only one album, Made in Rock. Pretty typical mid-70s riffage here, though this being a Swedish band, they can't help being super-melodic as well. The CD's liner notes explain that in the studio the band used an Orchestron, a synth along the lines of the Mellotron—automatic extra bonus points for the use of an obscure instrument!

MP3 Solid Ground "Oh Lord" (from Made in Rock, 1976)
MP3 Solid Ground "Tombstone Kiss" (from Made in Rock, 1976)

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Precision fun

The last time I was at Giants Stadium was to see Liverpool duke it out with AC Milan, and the time before that was for ’N Sync. I guess I just don't hang out in the Meadowlands that much. But on Saturday, I spent two of the best hours of the year in that godforsaken corner of New Jersey—at a drum & bugle competition!

The only surprise is that it took me so long to finally see this type of event—after all, I'm a huge fan of precision ensembles, from Busby Berkeley movies to the Rockettes, and I love high-school marching bands. And of course Saturday's event was also part of the ongoing "Americanization of Elisabeth" campaign; there sure aren't any drum contests in France, a highly individualistic country where the only successful synchronized events seem to be strikes.

Anyhoo, Saturday… We started off with the Jersey Surf, an endearing, scrappy category 2 corps that I enjoyed watching if only because I knew it'd help my untrained eyes to better appreciate the heady perfection that'd come later from the more accomplished ensembles. Drum & bugle has militaristic origins but they've been channeled, as if the case with pretty much everything in America, into pure entertainment. Uniforms, yes, but with sequins! Shakos, sure, but with lots of feathers! Rifles, absolutely, but thrown up high in the air like you just don't care! (If America exorcised its military jones through drum & bugle instead of ill-fated excursions to Iraq, we might be in a better place.) And of course, the metal fan in me was psyched by the sheer volume of it all: When a corps lets loose, it's gloriously loud.

My two favorites were Carolina Crown and Phantom Regiment. Carolina Crown's guard overcame silly outfits that made it look like a bunch of extras from Cats but then turned out to play a narrative purpose when the kids enacted a stylized horse race to the tune of the William Tell Overture played full speed ahead. (Compare with the Boston Crusaders, who lugged easels around during their entire Picasso-themed routine but didn't really use them.) No wonder the Crown got the biggest ovation, followed by boos when it finished in third place. As for Phantom Regiment, it came up with my favorite purely musical moment, making Philip Glass' 1000 Airplanes on the Roof sound like 1000 airplanes taking off.

Back home, the Sheila pointed out that she grew up watching Edinburgh's Military Tattoo, which was broadcast on prime time in Australia and which does seem to get close to what I'd just seen, albeit with a stronger international component. And lo and behold, a bit of poking around quickly unearthed an amazing Military Tattoo performance by the Top Secret Drum Corps from Basel—so secret, its bass drums are painted black. Just check out that stick action! I had no idea the Swiss had it in them.

Oh my fricking god

Forgive me for taking in vain the name of a superstitious conceit I don't believe in, but…wow! A seismic pop event is scheduled for July 21 in London, and suddenly flying there for two days looks like an imperative. I'm referring to a triple bill of BWO, Army of Lovers and Alcazar—that would be three of the greatest acts ever to come out of Sweden in the past 20 years. I choked a little when I saw that announcement, especially since both Army of Lovers and Alcazar are officially disbanded and are thus reuniting for the occasion.

All three, uncoincidentally, are linked by mastermind Alexander Bard—pop genius, essayist, breeder of racing horses and zoroastrian extraordinaire. It's hard to understimate the shock that Bard's project Army of Lovers (pictured) created in the early 90s: Imagine a group of flamboyant characters—and I really mean characters—looking like Prince's gay band and singing baroque disco. (For a good look at Bard himself, he takes the lead in this classic AoL video.) After AoL ended, he worked with Alcazar, cowriting a lot of its material without actually being in the band; I chose to post an Alcazar song that, like half of that group's catalogue, incorporates a Chic sample—it sometimes felt as if Alcazar was a perverse, pomo cover band. After Alcazar split, Bard started up Bodies Without Organs, which later shortened its name to BWO. Like Alcazar before, BWO tried to enter Eurovision but despite coming up with at least one fab, could-have-won-the-whole-enchilada monster (which was in my top ten of 2006), it didn't make it out of the Swedish national selection process. Pity.

The only major Bard project missing on the London bill is Vacuum, in which he reteamed with Army of Lovers' Anders Wollbeck for a pair of albums in the mid- to late 90s before leaving (the band still exists but sounds rather different). To make up for it I included Vacuum's biggest hit, "I Breathe," in my mini Bard tribute.

MP3 Army of Lovers "Crucified" from Massive Luxury Overdose (1993)
MP3 Vacuum "I Breathe" from The Plutonium Cathedral (1996)
MP3 Alcazar "I Go Shopping" from Alcazarized (2003)
MP3 BWO "Juggernaut" from Halcyon Days (2006)