Monday, 27 March 2017

Songs from Salamanca

 Hello!


 My feature on the songs of my Spanish summer has been published by Cuckoo Review. It includes tracks by Alan Parsons Project, Robin Gibb, Céline Dion, Roxy Music and more. I hope you enjoy it!

 If you would like to learn more about my time in Spain, check out my travel blog - the post where I first arrive in Salamanca can be found here and you can then go through the others in the Blog Archive on the left.

 I hope to share more articles and reviews on this blog soon, especially with the Eurovision season coming up!

 Hope you're well.

 Liz x

Sunday, 19 March 2017

Review: Indigo Girls - Rites of Passage

 Hello!


 Just letting you know that my piece about Indigo Girls' 1992 album Rites of Passage has been published in The Mancunion.

 I hope you enjoy learning about this vibrant record.

 Liz x

Monday, 18 July 2016

Eurovision 2016: The groovy grand final

 Hello!


 After sharing my thoughts on the first and second semi-final and Sweden and the Big 5, as well as my brother's thoughts on the contest as a whole, it is time to finish my Eurovision 2016 round-up with my opinion of the grand final.

 I enjoyed the flag parade - having it double as a fashion show was an interesting twist. I was pleased to see the musicians looking quite relaxed and happy as they strolled across the stage.

 As for our hosts, Petra and Måns... where do I begin? I've heard so many people who aren't even into Eurovision saying that they loved them and they should host every year.

 I found them a breath of fresh air, especially the brilliant Petra. She was even funnier and more charismatic than in 2013, which I hadn't thought would be possible. I love how the crowd chanted her name as she walked onto stage and how moved by it she seemed.

 I think the postcards could have been slightly more innovative. I like how they showcased the artists' countries instead of just Sweden, but I do think they could have jazzed them up a little.

 I did appreciate the cool things they did with the name of each country at the end of each postcard (different fonts and colours).

 I enjoyed Graham Norton's commentary. He seemed a little less bouncy this year, but I guess that could be linked to Terry Wogan's death. I wish he could have spoken over Petra and Måns less, though as he says every time that he has to, I suppose he must. Still, it was frustrating.

 I could very easily have done without Justin Timberlake and his patronising comments to the contestants. He clearly didn't realise many of them were top musicians in their country and internationally, and treated them like they were talent show newbies.

 His performance wasn't amazing either; I've since grown to quite like the song but that rendition didn't catch my attention. Måns and co. on Segways also looked a bit cheesy and clumsy. He can do a lot better than that.

 However, we all know the real interval act that night was Love Love Peace Peace, Måns and Petra's homage to, and parody of, modern-day Eurovision.


 The song itself is amusing, but it was their performance that made it. Especially Petra, considering she is a comedian first and foremost and not a singer like Måns. I've re-watched it more than most of the night's actual entries. Again, I've heard non-Eurovision fans praise it repeatedly.

 I don't think it quite matches Norway's 2010 flashmob, which in my view is the best interval act ever. But it was better than most we've had in recent years.


 I had my doubts about the new way of presenting the votes. However, it worked okay. It certainly made things more exciting - and tense! - at the end.

 I voted for Sweden and was glad to see they got a point from the UK public vote. To be honest, I expected more than one - Frans has a similar style to some artists who are doing well here at the moment, such as George Ezra, Tom Odell and James Bay. 


 Still, one was better than none and I was happy to see Sweden make the Top 5 - just!

 As for the winner, I think musically it was dull but vocally it was amazing and quite haunting. I won't comment on the politics, as is my general policy with Eurovision songs. 

 I would have been happy with any out of Lithuania, Australia, Sweden or Belgium winning - or the UK, of course!

 Overall, this was one of the best-hosted and generally most enjoyable contests I've watched. Sweden has such respect for Eurovision, which plays a big part in their success both as contestants and hosts. 

 I hope future host nations incorporate some elements of Sweden's two recent contests. (But not Justin Timberlake or Segways!)

 I hope you've enjoyed sharing this year's Eurovision experience with me. Here's to next year!

 Thanks for reading.

 Liz x

Wednesday, 13 July 2016

Boomin interview

Hello!

Adam, Edd and Rory
Today I have something special for you - an interview with Rory O'Grady of Wigan indie rock band Boomin. The band are currently celebrating ten years together so I caught up with Rory to learn about the band's origins, inspirations, highlights and aims for the future.

***

Congratulations on ten years! How did the band begin?

It started at Wigan and Leigh College back in 2003 where I met Edd and Adam. We first started a metal original band and there were six of us back then. Edd was the lead vocal frontman and Adam and myself were rhythm and lead guitarists. 

Over time members left, then we decided to originally start a cover band and that's how it all happened.

Who are your musical heroes?

We all have slightly different influences. Adam likes blues, Edd likes 80s and I like alternative rock but we're all fans of the likes of Queen, Foo Fighters, Prince, Billy Joel and Sum 41.

You have some imaginative videos, such as Chocolate: how do you come up with ideas?

As musicians and artists you are always looking and listening to everything around you to give yourself ideas. Sometimes you can steal an idea as long as you put your own spin on it.

Do you feel your style and/or direction has changed over the years?

Yes. It started with the classic cover songs (Johnny B. Goode, Mustang Sally, Brown Eyed Girl) and now we do more genres and do medleys. At the start it was more Adam lead vocal and now we all sing lead. We also chuck in some original material as well.

You travel a lot, do you enjoy life on the road?

It can be the worst part of being in a band but sometimes we can turn it into a positive by having a jam on the acoustics and doing live videos.

What would you say is your biggest achievement?

Getting our album in the iTunes rock chart at no. 22 without any PR or team. Other highlights include performing an original song on stage with Newton Faulkner, supporting McFly and finishing 12th out of 12,000 bands worldwide in Hard Rock Rising 2013.


What are your plans for 2016 and beyond?

Releasing an acoustic album that's more heartfelt and serious for us but it's something totally different for the fans, Then recording more original music hopefully. Just keep touring and making records and see how far we can go.

What advice would you give to young musicians?

Cliché but do what you love and stick at it. Don't change for anyone, be different, don't follow what others do. Hard work equals success, not Lady Luck.

***

It's been great talking to Rory - I hope you have enjoyed the interview. If you did, check out my interviews with Eddi Reader and The Kennedys.

Make sure to give Boomin's music a listen, and you can follow Rory on Twitter at @roryboomin.

Thanks for reading!

Liz x

Monday, 4 July 2016

Eurovision 2016 by my brother

 Hello!



 This is a guest post by my brother Noah Gibson with his views on this year's Eurovision Song Contest. He has two YouTube channels where he reviews music: GibboMaths and GibbyTheLegendG.

 I hope you enjoy his post!
***

Having watched both semi-finals and the final of Eurovision 2016 and having heard all the songs, I have given them all ratings out of 20. I have also rated Romania, which I have listened to on the internet. 

 I think that this year, lots of entries have had good looking performers and great costumes, backing singers and dancers. The lighting for many entries and the way their act performed the song was very good. Some entries had very modern electronic production and some artists had very strong voices. 


 However, the main bad thing about it this year was that there were far too many sad songs and songs with sad parts in them.



Here are my top 3. 

1. Estonia

 I like the piano in the first verse and the guitar in the bridges. The tune is very catchy and the lighting is very good. It is colourful and sophisticated. Jüri Pootsmann does a good magic trick in the middle of the performance. It is very effective when there is a slow part without many instruments before the final chorus.

2. Sweden

 The verses are sung in a way which is very different to most singing. It has got a good beat that carries the song. The lighting is simple but effective and Frans has got good performance skills.

3. Netherlands

 It is a very relaxing song and has a country edge to it, making it different to many other entries this year. There is a variety of good instruments. The clock projection on the floor is good and Douwe Bob has got quite a good image.


Here are my ratings for each country's song.


Albania – 12/20, Armenia – 11/20, Austria – 16/20, Australia – 8/20, Azerbaijan – 14/20

Belarus – 16/20, Belgium – 15/20, Bosnia And Herzegovina – 12/20, Bulgaria – 17/20

Croatia – 11/20, Cyprus – 14/20, Czech Republic – 17/20

Denmark – 12/20

Estonia – 19/20

Finland – 13/20, France – 16/20

Georgia – 17/20, Germany – 12/20, Greece – 10/20

Hungary – 15/20

Iceland – 12/20, Ireland – 14/20, Israel – 16/20, Italy – 13/20

Latvia – 18/20, Lithuania – 13/20

Macedonia – 9/20, Malta – 9/20, Moldova – 18/20, Montenegro – 15/20

Netherlands – 18/20, Norway – 17/20

Poland – 15/20

Romania – 12/20, Russia – 15/20

San Marino – 16/20, Serbia – 13/20, Slovenia – 12/20, Spain – 17/20, Sweden – 19/20, Switzerland – 13/20

Ukraine – 15/20, United Kingdom – 13/20

Here are some songs that I think sound like 2016 Eurovision songs.

Armenia: Lady Gaga – Born This Way

Austria: Marina And The Diamonds – Primadonna

Belarus: Abba – Gimme Gimme Gimme (A Man After Midnight)

Belgium: Robin Thicke – Give It 2 U

Bosnia And Herzegovina: The Corrs – Only When I Sleep

Bulgaria: The Vamps – I Found A Girl

Croatia: Jessie J – LaserLight

Cyprus: Cutting Crew - (I Just) Died In Your Arms

Czech Republic: Lady Gaga – Til It Happens To You

Finland: Birdy – Keeping Your Head Up

France: Lawson – Taking Over Me

Georgia: The Police – Roxanne

Germany: Little Boots – Headphones

Israel: Adele – Someone Like You

Latvia: Gnarls Barkley – Crazy

Moldova: The Saturdays – Not Giving Up

Netherlands: Slade – Merry Xmas Everybody

Norway: Kamaliya – I'm Alive

Spain: Avicii – Silhouettes

Sweden: David Bowie – Fill Your Heart

***

 I hope you enjoyed this guest post! Make sure you also check out my posts on the first and second semi finals! 

 The next post will be my own thoughts on the Eurovision 2016 Grand Final, so watch this space!

 Thanks for reading.

 Liz x

Saturday, 18 June 2016

Eurovision 2016: The Big 5 and Sweden

 Hello!


 Having reviewed all the music from the two semi-finals, I'm going to turn my attention to the songs of the six countries that had a fast-track pass to the final. They are the Big 5 - the UK, France, Spain, Germany and Italy - and the host nation, Sweden.

 I found this year's Big 5 showing to be very poor, with only Germany really impressing me musically, though even they were let down staging-wise. Sweden, on the other hand... Wow.

 Let's go through act by act. As always, I'll give a rating out of twenty; this is for the song first and foremost, with my comments supplying my views re vocals, performance and staging.

 UK - I must admit, this is by far the best thing we've sent for years, and the smartest: it has Eurovision written all over it. 


 However, it still isn't amazing and Joe and Jake's performance could have been better, more dynamic. I do like how Graham Norton made an appearance in one of the background photos! 14/20

 France - My mother, brother and cat liked this but I found it slightly dull.


 It's also very similar to "Moustache", France's 2014 entry, and in turn to Stromae's "Papaoutai" (to which parts of Moustache are almost identical). 



 Amir did perform with a good energy and a winning smile but the song is forgettable though, of course, it had its life prolonged after the contest by the big meme made out of Elodie Gossuin, who presented France's votes, attempting to sing it. 


 I think she was sweet and did her job pretty well, and many spokespeople reference their country's song. Anyway, "J'ai cherché" is okay but nothing special. 10/20

 Spain - This song appears to be massive in Spain and, while it's upbeat and easy to dance to, I don't think it's that great. I'd pretty much forgotten what it sounded like until I re-watched it. 


 What did stick in my mind was Barei's performance - she is full of life and fun and clearly didn't take the contest too seriously; she just wanted to enjoy it, and her joy was infectious. I loved her hair, too! The part where she fake-falls would have terrified me if it weren't for Graham Norton warning us!
11/20

 Germany - This is definitely the best Big 5 song - it reminds me of "Ghost" by Halsey in theme and tone. 



 Unfortunately, it was let down by the staging - the Twilight-esque backdrop looked tacky, when, done well, it could have been really effective. 

 While the singer, Jamie-Lee, has a right to dress to suit her personality, I felt it was way over-the-top and it made it hard to take her seriously. It was a shame, as the song was really very good. 16/20

 Italy - I couldn't remember any of this before re-watching! The song's okay, but not really Eurovision and the staging was odd in the extreme, though at least that was memorable: all the random things on sticks. 


 The cartoon-y after-effects - the ripples, stars etc that appeared to be drawn across the screen - were actually quite pretty. Normally any heavy effects of that kind in Eurovision annoy me as I think we should just see what's on stage, but these ones added a bit of umph to a dull performance. 8/20

 Now, from the rather ridiculous to the sublime, and to the song I voted for myself.

 Sweden - The first time I heard this properly was the final and I was struck by how Nate Ruess it was, in both style and vocals! I liked the understated performance and staging and found it hard to believe Frans was only seventeen, he had such presence and power.


 I voted for Sweden, but it was only later that I went from liking the song to loving it. A lot of people have compared it to "Catch and Release" by Matt Simons. 


 There is a resemblance, but not too much of one. I like both songs but prefer Frans and "If I Were Sorry". 18/20

 So, that was the Big 5 and Sweden. Watch this space for my post about the final - and expect plenty of gushing about the wonders of Petra and Måns!

 Thanks for reading!

 Liz x

Monday, 6 June 2016

Eurovision 2016: The sensational second semi-final

 Hello!


 Now I've given you my thoughts on the first semi-final, I'll share with you my views on the second one, which I feel was definitely the stronger of the two.

 To begin with, the hosts Måns and Petra's "That's Eurovision" performance was brilliant! When they first began I thought, "Oh no, they're going all Broadway to please the Americans even more" (with them having already announced that Justin Timberlake would perform during the final). 

 However, they weren't afraid to mock themselves and the contest and it ended up being really funny and enjoyable. Petra, as I've said before, can pull off pretty much anything.


 Now to the competing songs. I'll be using the same scoring system I did for the first semi, ie, each country will receive a mark out of 20 for the song, as well as comments regarding staging, voice and performance. Let's go!

 1) Latvia - I found the song dull but he had good stage presence. It kind of sounded like a slowed-down version of last year's Aussie entry, "Tonight Again". 10/20

 2) Poland - The lighting was nice. I don't have that much else to say about it! It was okay. I don't really get why it's a favourite. 10/20

 3) Switzerland - This was quite nice and reminded me of "Running Scared", which won for Azerbaijan a few years ago. 11/20

 4) Israel - I was pleasantly surprised by this; the singer came across as a character in interviews I'd seen but the performance was understated and quite calm. I liked the simplistic staging, along with his sparkly shirt and gloves! 12/20

 5) Belarus - Ah, the infamous wolf performance! I found there was way too much going on, making it hard to really appreciate the song. 12/20

 6) Serbia - This song had a good message, against domestic violence, but musically it was very average. 8/20

 7) Ireland - The song was okay; rather clichéd even for Eurovision. Nicky Byrne looked awkward, like he wasn't really comfortable performing it. 11/20

 8) FYR Macedonia - This was one of my favourites. The singer has a great voice - and she also seemed very tall! - and the performance was solid. The song sounded like a lot of others strung together but she pulled it off. The drummer was intense! 17/20

 9) Lithuania - Ah, the return of Donny Montell - this time without a blindfold. 


 This year's song from him - "I've been waiting for this night" - was one of the ones I felt had most potential - it's very One Direction and quite catchy - but I think this performance let it down. 16/20

 10) Australia - This is undoubtedly one of the best songs and vocalists but again, I felt something was missing from this performance. I liked the staging - minimalist but effective. 18/20

 11) Slovenia - This was very Taylor Swift; it veered between country and Europop rather oddly but kind of worked, aided by a confident, impassioned performance. 15/20

 12) Bulgaria - The grammar! "If love was a crime..." At least Frans for Sweden got the subjunctive right with "If I were sorry." This was rather boring and run-of-the-mill Eurovision but she certainly performed it with gusto. 12/20

 13) Denmark - The 15-to-1 style podia were interesting. Otherwise this was pretty clichéd; they seemed to be trying a bit too hard to be A-ha or Herreys. 10/20

 14) Ukraine - As I've said before, I'm not getting into the politics of songs. On a musical level, I found this rather slow and repetitive; however her voice is incredible and her performance was assured. 10/20

 15) Norway - Dry ice alert! People seem generally far less obsessed with dry ice these days than they were for a while a few years ago. This performance, however, had all the dry ice anyone could ever desire. The lyrics of the song are appalling - "I'll be your ice-breaker when you're stuck in frozen water"? 8/20

 16) Georgia - This had a lot of weird trippy stuff going on with the graphics and was generally quite dull. 10/20

 17) Albania - An odd but nice dress couldn't salvage a boring song. 9/20

 18) Belgium - This was like a cross between Fleur East and Kylie, transported into the 70s. The song was very enjoyable (though it sounds like so many we've heard before) and her performance was impressive, especially all the dancing. 14/20

 As mentioned earlier, I found this the better semi-final, with a good range of musical styles and some solid songs and performances. Watch this space for my blog posts about the Big 5 and Sweden, and about the grand final.

 Thanks for reading!

 Liz x

Friday, 13 May 2016

Eurovision 2016: The fabulous first semi-final

 Hello!


 As my readers know, I am a massive fan of Eurovision. I've been particularly looking forward to the 2016 contest, partly because I've had a super-busy year and Eurovision is a great chance to relax and celebrate, and partly as it is in Sweden again (after they hosted in 2013) and we know how well they do Eurovision

 As the first semi-final kicked off on Tuesday, I felt we were in safe hands. Sweden as hosts aren't glitzy or over-the-top, they're just... really good.

 Instead of having, as many countries do, three young presenters that seem slightly nervous and take things very seriously, Sweden gives us the wonderful Petra Mede whose attitude towards the show is just perfect.

 She is joined this year by last year's winning performer, Måns Zelmerlöw, who I feel has been okay at presenting so far, though he is often overshadowed by Petra. But then, it's hard not to be!

 I loved the segment where Måns and Petra pretended to be taxi drivers - it's the kind of low-budget, down-to-earth thing that other countries might shy away from but which the Swedes recognise as being genuinely entertaining. The moment when the two guys realised they were in a cab with Petra was brilliant and I had to re-watch it.

 Måns's performance and the part with the Pippi dancers were okay. They are clearly gifted dancers and I think they could have been used better to show off their potential. Plus, though I do love her, Pippi was referenced in the 2013 contest, and they could have had something new this time.

I like this year's dandelion clock theme, but some of the dandelion graphics are rather psychedelic. I like how they use jazzy fonts for the names of the countries. The postcards, like many elements of this year's show, feel simple and serviceable, which I like.

 Okay, on to the music! I've given each song a mark out of 20. I'll comment on the voice, performance, staging, etc, but the mark is mainly for the song itself.

 1) Finland - Parts of this sounded like a recent-ish pop song, I think possibly by the Swedish House Mafia. I found it pretty average, and the constant "Bruh, bruh"-ing a bit annoying. Not a great start to the show, although at least it was energetic. 7/20

 2) Greece - I wasn't sure whether this was supposed to have some political connotations or not, and as a result feel slightly uncomfortable commenting on it lyrically. Musically, I found it quite ordinary and very typical of Greek Eurovision entries. 10/20

 3) Moldova - I liked her dress! The song felt clichéd but I felt she had a strong stage presence. I liked the silver and blue-themed staging.  8/20

 4) Hungary - Ah, the drums, the drums! We couldn't possibly yet a Eurovision year go by without them. I felt this song had lots of good ingredients but they never really came together. 8/20

 5) Croatia - I liked the staging and the way it built up to the end, with the falling sparks. Her first dress just didn't work even as a decoy for the second, proper one - her hair was too short for it and it swamped her. Had her hair been longer it may have worked. The song was on the good side of average and she sold it well. 12/20

 6) Netherlands - More country from them! I'm not complaining; it was a decent song, though it's hard to match the Common Linnets (whose success I imagine they're trying to emulate with this year's entry). One of the backing band reminded me of Mick Jagger. The staging seemed to swamp the lead singer at first but he settled into the performance. 14/20

 7) Armenia - Hmm! I don't know where to begin on this one. She looked like Nicole Scherzinger. Her voice and the song were both decent. But the over-dramatic camera work and cutting on this were awful and fitted a music video better than a Eurovision performance. It really was hard to watch. 13/20

 8) San Marino - The lyrics and the way he sang them came across as a bit odd. The horrible graphics in the background combined with his garish outfit were very hard on the eyes. 4/20

 9) Russia - Most clichéd lyrics yet - "Thunder and lightning, it's getting exciting." The staging was very reminiscent of both the Austrian and Swedish winning songs from the last couple of years, but it was quite good all the same. At the end it became hard to watch due to all the strobing. 10/20

 10) Czech Republic - The staging was nice but strobey. The lyrics were very repetitive but the song quite pleasant, and I liked her dress and the way she let her hair down at the end (quite literally!). 13/20

 11) Cyprus - As Scott Mills, commentating for the UK, declared, this really sounds like Somebody Told Me by the Killers. It was all just a little bit over-the-top, what with the flashing lights, moody glazes, blue smoke and howling. It was something different, however, and that is always welcome. 11/20

 12) Austria - She looked like a Disney Princess! She also reminded me of Amanda Seyfreid in Mamma Mia. It was all a bit too cutesy and high-pitched for me, and it seemed to go on for a long time. She didn't seem to be doing much and the background graphics got a bit annoying. 12/20

 13) Estonia - More chess in the postcard! Horses and chess were the recurring themes this semi-final! This guy reminded me of Nick Henderson from Big Brother. I personally don't like songs based heavily around a theme unless they're really good. The theme of playing cards totally dominated this performance and staging and it was too intense. I was relieved when it was over! But he is kind of endearing and I can understand why people seem to like him. 11/20

 14) Azerbaijan - I wasn't keen on the outfits here! However, it was a decent song and performance. Azerbaijan have been fairly consistent in recent years, sending songs that aren't amazing but are very solid. 14/20

 15) Montenegro - Scott Mills really didn't like this! I thought it was okay - it was certainly striking. It's a shame there were more silly jump cuts and angles; this time it felt like we were watching a festival set instead of a Eurovision performance and I feel the song itself, which was all right, was drowned out by the theatrics. 14/20

 16) Iceland - I liked what she did with the shadows staging-wise. The song was cheesy but good. 14/20

 17) Bosnia and Herzegovina - Scott and Mel Giedroyc joked about the tin foil outfits but I actually liked them! I wasn't keen on the "Ey, ey, ey," at the end. Overall it was very Eurovision. 10/20

 18) Malta - Another nice dress! She gave a very confident performance and I liked the background. The song is okay - a bit of an earworm. 13/20

 Overall, I enjoyed the show. I feel this was the weaker semi-final - the one on Thursday had more stand-out songs for me. However, this one was very watchable and Måns and Petra - especially Petra - did an excellent job.

 Watch this space for my thoughts on the second semi-final!

 Thanks for reading.

 Liz x

Monday, 22 February 2016

Top 5 love songs without the word "love"

 Hi!

 

 Just letting you know that my piece on the Top 5 love songs without the word "love" in them has been published in Cuckoo Review.

 When I shared it on Twitter Mike Scott replied to me, which was great and may give you an idea of what one of the songs could be!

 I hope you enjoy the article.

 Liz x

Tuesday, 16 February 2016

Jonas Kaufmann: An Evening With Puccini

 Hello!

Photo: Gregor Hohenberg - The Telegraph
 My parents are huge fans of German tenor Jonas Kaufmann and his concert DVD You Mean the World to Me is often played in our house. Although until a few nights ago I was not too familiar with opera, I could tell his voice was amazing.

 So when last week Arts Alliance asked if I would like to see his new film, An Evening With Puccini, I was of course delighted. It was to be shown at, among many other places, the Odeon in the Printworks, Manchester, which was handy for me.

 Chinese New Year having just gone, Manchester city centre was a sea of red lanterns, setting the scene for an exotic and exciting night. I navigated the maze of escalators in the Odeon and settled down, ready to be enchanted.

 Before the concert we were treated to a brief interview between Kaufmann and Clemency Burton-Hill, in which the tenor explained how he chose to devote an evening to Puccini as the latter was so expert in conjuring up and playing with human emotion. They also hinted at a surprise to come.

 The film proper begins with Jonas striding purposefully through Milan to dramatic music, which could have been very cheesy but somehow works. He arrives at the La Scala opera house and is visually moved by its golden majesty, charged atmosphere and six levels of seating.

 He introduces the conductor, Jochen Rieder. The amiability and mutual respect between the two men is one of the strongest elements of the film. We meet the orchestra, who play a prelude, over which Jonas tells the life of Puccini. His love for the composer is very evident.

 Kaufmann then walks on-stage to rapture from the audience and performs his first aria. His voice is strong and confident, his acting solid and his joy at telling the story, of sharing something he loves, is radiant.

 The show proceeds fairly methodically: the orchestra will perform an instrumental piece, then Kaufmann will take the stage and perform an aria, then there will be another instrumental and another aria. However, methodical as it is, the evening feels very natural and rings with emotion.

 A range of operas are covered, with pieces from Manon Lescaut, Tosca, Madama Butterfly and La fanciulla del West.

 Of course, he has to end with Nessun dorma, which he performs with gusto. Having heard it many times, I was pleasantly surprised that his version made me feel something I hadn't previously. On the last notes of "I will win", I felt such a power and determination coming from his voice, from him, that it filled me with hope and the idea that maybe I could win, too.

 Finally, of course, come the numerous encores including the surprise hinted at earlier. While I won't spoil it, I will say I'm glad that it was left in the film and that instead of putting Kaufmann off as it could well have done, he embraced it and made it work in quite a positive way.

 The film ended quite abruptly but left me feeling like I had been transported to another place and time - to the point where on my way out, I honestly kept having to remind myself I was in Manchester and not Milan.

 It was a unique experience which has inspired me to watch and listen to more opera and to see more event cinema.

 Thanks for reading,

 Liz x