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Pet Shop Boys bring a pop masterclass to Hyde Park

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Pet Shop Boys

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The Pet Shop Boys are the UK’s best-selling duo of all time

“He smiled!” shouted a member of the audience in astonishment, as the Pet Shop Boys headlined London’s Hyde Park.

And he was right: Chris Lowe, the band’s inscrutable keyboard player, was sporting a big old grin as he bashed out the bassline to West End Girls.

It was a sign of how much the show meant to the band, who were headlining a day of music put on by BBC Radio 2.

They’d even tweaked their usual setlist to “put more hits in”, said singer Neil Tennant.

“It’s quite exciting doing an hour-long set with more hits – but I think it’s a set you want the audience to feel energised by.”

  • Radio 2 In Hyde Park – full coverage

The 40,000-strong crowd returned the generosity by joining in with classics like Suburbia, It’s A Sin and Left To My Own Devices.

Never natural showmen, the duo provided visual spectacle via a large troupe of dancers, who energised Vocal with a spectacularly kinetic push-pull routine, and provided dashes of colour in their inflatable balloon costumes during the encore.

There were a few surprise guests for good measure – Years & Years’ Olly Alexander duetting on the band’s new single Dreamland, and Beverley Knight stunningly recreating Dusty Springfield’s vocals on What Have I Done To Deserve This.

“OK, we’ll do another old song,” announced Tenant towards the end of the set. “But which old song? There are so many to choose from.”

He teased the audience with fragments of Opportunities and Rent before the unmistakable synth riff for Go West chimed out – prompting another mass singalong, with some fans even donning the video’s unforgettable conical hats.

The set ended with a snatch of 2016’s The Pop Kids, a song that acts as a potted history of the band: “We were young but we imagined we were so sophisticated / Telling everyone we knew that rock was overrated.”

With rock all but edged out of the charts, and artists like Charli XCX, Billie Eilish, and Years & Years building on the Pet Shop Boys’ pop template, it’s no surprise Chris Lowe was smiling: The gig felt like a lap of honour and a pop masterclass rolled into one.

Setlist

  • Suburbia
  • Burn
  • Se a vida é (That’s the Way Life Is)
  • West End Girls
  • Dreamland (with Olly Alexander)
  • Vocal
  • Heart
  • It’s A Sin
  • Left to My Own Devices
  • Go West
  • Domino Dancing
  • What Have I Done to Deserve This? (with Beverley Knight)
  • Always On My Mind
  • The Pop Kids

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Media captionWestlife – Flying Without Wings

The band’s set came at the end of Radio 2’s Festival In A Day, where the bill also included Simply Red, Clean Bandit and Status Quo – who performed with an empty microphone stand on the stage, in honour of guitarist Rick Parfitt, who died in 2016.

Playing the support slot, Westlife drew the biggest crowd of the day for a vocally-impressive set of torch ballads, including You Lift Me Up and Flying Without Wings.

Soul star Emeli Sande, however, had to pull out of the event, saying: “I woke up this morning and my voice just wasn’t there.”

Here are some of the other moments worth noting:

Bananarama’s lunchtime carnage

At a conservative estimate, more than 2,500 picnics were trampled into the ground as fans jumped around to Bananarama’s glossy 80s pop hits: Venus, I Heard A Rumour, Love In The First Degree… The list goes on.

Speaking backstage, Sarah and Keren revealed that the last time they’d been in Hyde Park it was as fans, watching Barbra Streisand’s comeback show earlier this summer.

“Actually, the first song we ever recorded was Evergreen by Barbara Streisand, on a cassette player when we were at school,” Keren recalled.

Sadly, though, this pivotal moment in pop history has been lost in the mists of time.

“I’ve got loads of old cassettes but my brother tended to record over most of them. Bruno Brookes doing the Top 40 and that sort of thing,” said Keren.

So how about recreating the cover for their next album?

“A disco version?” asks the singer. “I’ve just tried to imagine it in my head and… maybe not.”

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Media captionBananarama perform Venus at Radio 2 Live in Hyde Park 2019

Francis Rossi had a gruelling training regime

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Status Quo were one of the day’s biggest hits – with hundreds of fans beerily recreating the hands-on-hips swivel dance for Down Down; followed by a rousing singalong to Rockin’ All Over The World.

Frontman Francis Rossi seemed decades younger than his 70 years as he strutted around the stage – but that sort of athleticism doesn’t come easy.

“I like to be match fit, so I had to swim double this morning to try to get myself ready,” he said in his dressing room, as he limbered up his fingers on a spring-loaded grip strengthener.

“I ate at 11:30 this morning because I like to leave six hours between a meal and a show; and I do a few crunches, because that helps pop the chest and the diaphragm, for some reason.”

Who said rock stars have an easy life?

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Media captionStatus Quo – Rockin’ All Over the World

Kelsea Ballerini premiered a brand new song

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US country star Kelsea Ballerini took the opportunity to play her recent single, Homecoming Queen, as well as premiering Better Luck Next Time, a spunky break-up song that’ll feature on her upcoming third album, due early next year.

So was she nervous about playing untested material to 40,000 people? Not especially.

“I think this is probably an audience that I’ll have to introduce myself to, anyway,” she said modestly before the show.

“I’m prepared for none of them to know any of my songs – so it takes the pressure off of the one actual new song when all of them are seemingly new.”

Clean Bandit have been working in China

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Fresh from the success of composing Shawn Mendes and Camila Cabello’s Senorita, Clean Bandit have been off to China, where they’ve been writing with two up-and-coming stars Henry Lau, and Tia Ray.

Travelling to Shanghai was a bit of an eye-opener for the band.

“We were really shocked at the studios we got taken to out there,” said Jack Patterson. “They were phenomenal, you don’t see new studios being built like that anywhere else in the world. It’s a different level of investment in the music industry.”

The band did encounter a few difficulties, though, with messaging services like WhatsApp banned in China.

“We were like, ‘Why isn’t anyone replying? Do they hate us?'” said cellist Grace Chatto.

“In the end, we had to use a special app.”

Meanwhile, the band revealed that work had started on their third album, which could herald a change of direction.

“There are quite a few songs that we’re working on finishing now that are more towards a hip-hop tempo and style,” said Grace.

“That’s kind of solidifying as a plan over the last couple of weeks.”

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Media captionClean Bandit perform Rockabye at Radio 2 Live in Hyde Park 2019

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The Strokes: A tale of two Fabrizio Morettis

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Fabrizio Moretti and Fabrizio MorettiImage copyright
Sotheby’s

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Fabrizio Morettis: Rock star (left) and art dealer and collector

The name Fabrizio Moretti will ring a bell with music fans of a rock ‘n’ roll persuasion.

So too though, it turns out, with those who have an interest in Renaissance art.

In one of the more intriguing career moves of recent times, the 39-year-old drummer from The Strokes has teamed up with his Italian art dealer namesake, 45, to put a fresh spin on some classic paintings and sculptures.

Fabrizio Moretti x Fabrizio Moretti: In Passing, sees the pair join forces to create a series of immersive installations, showcasing a selection of “old masters” at Sotheby’s New York.

The exhibition is intended to re-introduce the works – which will then be auctioned off – in a more contemporary way.

“They approached me and said ‘did you know about this art collector?'” explains the younger Moretti.

“And I said I did because he used to have [a gallery] on 80-something street [in New York] and I would pass it and be like ‘Hey, I recognise that man!’

“They said: ‘Maybe there’s something to you guys collaborating.’ And I thought about it for a while and I figured that if it stayed at just me coming up with a playlist or something for it – I thought maybe that would be a little uninteresting at my end.'”

He adds: “But if they gave me the opportunity to get my hands dirty, it would be totally worth it, and they gave me the opportunity.”

The musician, whose lifelong love of art began with his obsession for drawing endless pictures of horses as a kid, jokingly tells the BBC how they then let him “go crazy” in one of the world’s largest brokers of fine art.

“They showed me all the forgeries that they have, and how they sell for millions of dollars.”

He laughs as he says: “Like: ‘This is Picasso… Oh, it’s actually Fred Picasso!’.”

“‘He sold this painting twice!’,” he jokes.

[Sotheby’s made it clear to me they understood Fabrizio was joking.]

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Sotheby’s

Image caption

Fab’s fave: Taddeo Di Bartolo’s The Burial

The art works – including the rock star and former art student’s own personal favourite, the “super graphic and really stylised” Burial by Taddeo Di Bartolo – will be freshly viewed through the prism of his new installation, which is intended to work as an interactive puzzle.

(Almost like a classic art equivalent of what the Black Mirror producers tried with Bandersnatch, let’s say.)

“It’s almost like I’m building this maze so that the paintings could be this exclamation mark at the end of these strange moments, where you realise you’re in control and the art is revealed to you in different segments, because you’re swaying from side to side and it’s behind the wall,” he goes on.

“I was intrigued by the idea of creating this path that limits the way that you can perceive it, but also hands you control by limiting it. You know, since you’re the only person that can stand next to this painting in a certain particular spot, you’re also the only person that has ownership of it at that very moment.”

Is this (how you say) it?

The Italian Moretti said in a statement he was similarly “intrigued to collaborate with another Fabrizio, who shares my name,” noting him as “a respected visual artist and musician, who excels across the disciplines – much like the artists featured in the exhibition”.

Most importantly, however, the project has also helped the Brazil-born New York-raised Moretti, whose father is Italian, to say his own first name correctly.

“I’m really bad at pronunciation in Italian,” says the sticksman, “So much so that the other Fabrizio corrected me on my own name!

“It’s wild, at 39-years-old to be like: ‘Oh, I was wrong all these years’.”

Image copyright
Getty Images

Image caption

Fabrizio Moretti (left) cosies up to his bandmates, The Strokes, with a beer in 2001

Once the works are sold, Moretti (the drummer, that is – we hope you’re keeping up) will then get back behind the drum kit for a special New Year’s Eve hometown New York gig with the band in Brooklyn.

The seminal five-piece performed just the once in the UK in 2019, battling some sound issues to deliver a crowd-pleasing headline set at All Points East festival in east London. He says he wants to return to these shores next year, too, but in a much more intimate setting.

  • When New York was ‘a safe space for debauchery’

“To be perfectly honest with you,” he says, “I would like to come back there and play a smaller place. I would like to play maybe a few shows at smaller places because as fun as doing those festivals can be, they’re also… You know, I want to have more of an interaction with the specific Strokes fans, you know what I mean?

“I feel we owe a lot to them. Especially you guys there in the UK who basically started our lives as musicians and we’re very thankful for that.”

‘Stop and smell the roses’

So does he miss those carefree days of playing Manhattan dive bars? Before fame, big festivals (and eventually the art world) came a-knocking?

“Yes. Increasingly as I get older,” he admits, “because I’ll be honest with you – I didn’t pay enough attention as it was happening.

“Things just started to fall like dominoes and moments started to turn into other moments and all of a sudden you’re playing The Mercury Lounge (in New York), and the next minute you’re flying to England and it just seems like I needed to stop and smell the roses a bit more.

“So I tried to look back on it and meditate on it, and see if I could remember anything that stuck in my subconscious. Bring it up to the fore.”

Fabrizio Moretti x Fabrizio Moretti: In Passing runs from 15-18 December at Sotheby’s New York, with the auction going live on 18 December.


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‘God bless Birmingham’, says Banksy as artwork appears in city

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The Banksy artworkImage copyright
Banksy

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The Banksy artwork shows Ryan on a bench being “pulled” by two reindeer

Elusive artist Banksy has created new artwork in Birmingham, a festive-themed piece highlighting homelessness.

The artwork features in a film on Instagram that shows a man named Ryan on a bench being “pulled” by two reindeer painted on a brick wall in the city’s Jewellery Quarter.

It has been viewed over 1m times since it was posted earlier.

Hours later though, the work was defaced by a vandal who sprayed red noses on the reindeer.

Barriers had been installed, but the person managed to jump them, BBC Midlands Today reporter Ben Sidwell tweeted.

Image caption

A vandal sprayed the artwork with red noses on Monday evening

Unveiling the work, Banksy praised the generosity of people who gave Ryan food and drink while they filmed.

The post said: “God bless Birmingham. In the 20 minutes we filmed Ryan on this bench passers-by gave him a hot drink, two chocolate bars and a lighter – without him ever asking for anything.”

Pete Smith’s jewellery studio and workshop Vault 88 is located on Vyse Street, opposite the artwork.

He saw it when he arrived for work on Friday and said it had been attracting a lot of attention since the Instagram post.

“The world and his mother is outside,” he said.

“There’s been people taking pictures of themselves on the bench. It’s brilliant. It’s very, very clever.”

Image caption

Visitors have been recreating the artwork at the scene

He added the artist’s praise was “good for Brummies”, and showed “they care”.

Latest news from the West Midlands

Luke Crane from the Jewellery Quarter Business Improvement District said it was now a priority to protect the artwork.

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Media caption‘God bless Birmingham’, says Banksy as artwork appears in city

“We are very keen to make sure it is a part of our community and not something that is taken away,” he said.

“I think it comes at a great time of year – we obviously didn’t know it was coming, but what a great time.

“And it’s obviously about giving at a time of need for the homelessness that we have in these areas, and it’s something that we’ve been working in partnership with the council and other organisations to try and tackle, so it’s great to see it in our area.”

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British stars nominated for Golden Globe awards

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Taron Egerton appears as Elton John in RocketmanImage copyright
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Taron Egerton as Elton John in Rocketman

British stars are well represented in this year’s Golden Globe nominations, with Rocketman’s Taron Egerton and Phoebe Waller-Bridge up for awards.

Waller-Bridge is up for a lead actress prize for Fleabag, while her Irish co-star Andrew Scott is also nominated.

Marriage Story, a Netflix production, is the most nominated film, having received six citations in all.

The Irishman, another Netflix film, and Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood have five nominations each.

The Crown, Chernobyl and Unbelievable lead the way on the TV side of things, having received four nominations apiece.

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Netflix

Image caption

Johansson and Driver play a divorcing couple in Marriage Story

Marriage Story and Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman are both up for best film drama, as are Joker, The Two Popes and Sam Mendes’ World War I epic 1917.

Tarantino’s film is up for best musical or comedy, alongside Jojo Rabbit, Knives Out, Rocketman and Dolemite Is My Name.

  • Golden Globes: 2020 nominees in full

Scorsese, Mendes and Tarantino are up for the best film director award, with Joker’s Todd Phillips and Parasite’s Bong Jong Ho completing the all-male line-up.

The South Korean film-maker is also up for best screenplay for Parasite – a dark comedy about his homeland’s social divides that is also up for best foreign language film.

Christian Bale is up for the best actor in a film drama award for Ford v Ferrari – released as Le Mans ’66 in the UK.

Bale’s competition includes fellow Brit Jonathan Pryce for The Two Popes, as well as Antonio Banderas, Adam Driver and Joaquin Phoenix for Pain and Glory, Marriage Story and Joker respectively.

Image caption

The second series of Fleabag gets three nominations in all

Daniel Craig is up for best actor in a film comedy or musical for Knives Out, as is Egerton for Elton John biopic Rocketman and Eddie Murphy for Dolemite Is My Name.

The best actress in a film comedy or musical shortlist includes Dame Emma Thompson for Late Night and The Farewell’s Awkwafina.

Oscar favourite

The best actress in a film drama shortlist includes Britain’s Cynthia Erivo for Harriet, a biopic of anti-slavery activist Harriet Tubman.

Erivo’s competition includes Scarlett Johansson for Marriage Story, Saoirse Ronan for Little Women and Judy’s Renee Zellweger – widely considered to be the favourite for both this award and 2020’s best actress Oscar.

I’m Gonna Love Me Again, a new track written for Rocketman by Sir Elton John and Bernie Taupin, is up for the best original film song award.

So is Beautiful Ghosts, written by Taylor Swift and Andrew Lloyd Webber for the upcoming film version of Cats.

It is the only nomination for Cats, which has been left out of the major categories despite reports it was screened for voters at the last minute.

Swift expressed delight on Twitter that “one of the most fun, fulfilling creative experiences” in her life had been recognised by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA).

Into the Unknown from Frozen 2 and Beyonce’s song Spirit from Disney’s The Lion King also make the cut.

Both films are up for best animated film – an award The Lion King will not be eligible for at the Oscars or Baftas, as it was not submitted for consideration.

Royal roles

Olivia Colman, Helena Bonham Carter and Tobias Menzies are all up for awards for their royal roles in the latest series of The Crown.

Colman is up for best actress in a TV drama, where her competition includes Killing Eve’s Jodie Comer and the stars of Apple TV series The Morning Show – Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon.

Dame Helen Mirren, Kit Harington, Emily Watson and Sacha Baron Cohen are among other British actors who are up for TV prizes.

Harington’s consideration for best actor in a TV drama is the only nomination for the final series of fantasy saga Game of Thrones.

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PA Media

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Menzies, Colman and Bonham Carter play Prince Philip, The Queen and Princess Margaret in The Crown

Overall there are 27 Britons in contention for the awards, which recognise both film and television.

Netflix – the streaming giant behind Marriage Story, The Irishman, The Two Popes and The Crown – has 34 nominations in all – 17 each for film and TV.

HBO have 15 TV nominations, four of them coming for their mini-series about the Chernobyl nuclear disaster.

Ricky Gervais will return to host the awards on 5 January, having previously hosted them in 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2016.

Tom Hanks will receive a lifetime achievement award at the event, following in the footsteps of such recent honourees as Meryl Streep and Oprah Winfrey.

Hanks is also nominated for a best supporting actor prize for his role as children’s TV star Mr Rogers in A Beautiful Day in the Neighbourhood.

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