TRCH Priscilla

The Nottingham Culture Review of 2019

23 December 19 words: Jared Wilson
illustrations: Raphael Achache

A year can go by pretty quick and, to paraphrase Ferris Bueller, if you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it. With that in mind, our Editor-in-Chief Jared Wilson looked back on the last 365 days of life in Hoodtown...

Film and TV
Game of Thrones was the biggest TV show of the year, and Notts was well-represented in the final season, with Television Workshoppers Bella Ramsay and Joe Dempsie playing major roles. Plus, Broadway-based Jeanie Finlay also made a surprise behind-the-scenes documentary called Game Of Thrones: The Last Watch.

While we’re at it, 2019 was another incredible year for TV Workshop generally. Current students you may have seen on screen this year include Daniel Frogson (His Dark Materials), Erin Kellyman (Les Miserables), Harry Gilby (Tolkein), Sennie Nanua (The Fight), Bella Ramsay (again, in both The Worst Witch and Judy) and Zak Rothera-Oxley (Watchmen).  

Notable people from telly and film who came to visit us this year included director and satirist Chris Morris (who did a Q&A at Broadway to launch The Day Shall Come), Emilio Estevez (who came to hang out with Martin Luther King’s son at the WEDay Event), legendary filmmaker Ken Loach and Spaced’s Jessica Hynes and Nick Frost, who both came during the same week for separate events – sadly no sign of Simon Pegg though.

Hollywood’s latest attempt at a Robin Hood movie came out on Netflix after its initial and dismal cinema run in late 2018, and I still haven’t summoned the necessary levels of enthusiasm to watch it. 

Music
We started the year on the back of something that’s never happened before a Nottingham act got the UK Christmas Number One. Okay, so it was an autotuned ditty about sausage rolls by Youtuber Ladbaby, who used to reside in West Bridgford. But credit where it’s due; he did it and he raised a lot of cash for charity too. 

Sleaford Mods released Eton Alive (all recorded in Sneinton’s former fruit and veg warehouse JT Soar). It went Top Ten and they then spent a gruelling year on the road playing seventy-plus live shows across the world. By comparison, Jake Bugg’s touring schedule of nine dates looked relatively relaxed. New single Be Someone teased a new album due out in 2020. Young T and Bugsey not only notched a Top Ten single, but it stayed in the chart for weeks. Amber Run’s single I Found officially went Gold in the states and Sheku Kanneh-Mason headlined the BBC Proms. Nottingham-born NAO was shortlisted for the Mercury Music prize. 

Our local festival scene went from strength to strength with the likes of Hockley Hustle (October), Dot To Dot (May) and Beat The Streets (January) smashing it as ever. All Saints and Manic Street Preachers even joined us for the biggest ever Splendour in June. Our local wavy technoheads jumped on the festival circuit too, with the new two-day Wigflex City Festival (May) involving a day of workshops followed by a day of out and out raves. 

The end of June saw The Maze close its doors for good after twenty-something years of putting on monumental and messy parties, but never quite making enough cash to get the toilets fixed. It went out with a bang though, with lots of good feeling towards Gaz and Steph who’d slogged their guts out for the last fifteen years. We also said farewell to local record label Hello Thor who, after ten years, said Goodbye Thor with two final days of gigs as well as the rock-tastic MacMillanFest, which also bowed out after a decade of raising many many thousands of pounds for cancer treatment. 

University-owned venue Metronome started to get its stride after opening in late 2018. NTU then promptly launched another new music venue in October called University Hall, aimed more at classical gigs (and graduation ceremonies). Other new music venues that popped up included The Old Cold Store (inside Castle Rock Brewery) and Billy Bootleggers (formerly Filthys). The Bodega celebrated its 20th birthday with a series of gigs, including hometown heroes Kagoule. Rough Trade turned five and have recorded growth as a store every year since opening, as well as putting on consistently great events.

A project called Circle of Light, led by Tricia Gardener, gave young local musicians a platform to hone, record and release their tunes, with loads of local musicians including Scorzayzee, Invisible Orchestra and I’m Not From London all turning into teachers.

DiY celebrated their 30th birthday with a banging party at The Angel in November. Pete (aka Woosh) also launched a year-long charity project under the name Spirit Wrestlers, releasing a new tune every week of the year. Another comeback was from Crazy P, who turned twenty and launched their new album Age of the Ego with a homecoming gig at Brickworks.

Rock City won the award for Best Major Club award at the UK Live Music Business Awards 2019, while DHP also bagged Promoter of the Year. They’ll be celebrating their 40th birthday in 2020 with a year-long celebration of gigs to look out for. 

Sport

Trent Bridge hosted the early rounds of the ICC Cricket World Cup in June, which led to lots of very polite, sunburnt and drunk people wandering around Bridgford trying to get to Ubers in a place without crowds. I was one of them. I made it to most of the games and it was brilliant, only missing eventual winners England’s loss against Pakistan.

Notts County got relegated to non-league and then had the ignominy of handing their 157-year-old ownership of the title as ‘World’s Oldest League Club’ straight over to Forest. The majority of blame for their appalling form has to go to former owner Alan Hardy, who appeared more concerned with building his Twitter following than a football team. He even posted a photo of his private parts on there. Let’s hope their late-2019 resurgence since he left continues.

Forest celebrated the 40th anniversary of their European Cup win and actually look like they might put in a decent challenge for promotion this year. God knows this city could do with Premier League football after all this time – and that’s coming from a County fan.

The England Lionesses World Cup squad featured four ex-lady Magpies, which makes you wonder if they got rid of the right team when they dissolved them a couple of years back.

Ellie and Becky Downie continued to boss up world gymnastics, bringing back medals from both the European Games in Belarus and the World Championships in Stuttgart. Watch out for them both at the Olympics in Tokyo next year. Skateboarding will also feature in Tokyo and we’re told there might be a contender or two from Notts in the mix. We also hosted the British Triathlon for the second year running and the Nottingham Open Tennis for the fifth. 

Nottingham’s beloved all-conquering and now retired boxer Carl Froch started to display the first signs of brain malfunction, insisting the earth is flat and the moon landings never happened, whilst guesting on a sports podcast. 

Government
Long-standing council leader Jon Collins stepped down after sixteen years in March and, much to the chagrin of our clickbait-fixated churnalist chums at the Nottingham Post, he handed the exclusive interview about it to us. His role as leader was taken up by Councillor David Mellon of the Dales Ward.

Alexander (Boris) Johnson visited our city in November in the build-up to the election and looked like a lost child wandering the city. He locked a load of kids in a room and turned down eating Doughnotts, which probably tells you everything you need to know about the man. Although he may have suspected foul play after stabbing his party colleague and Rushcliffe MP Ken Clarke in the back a few months earlier. Five decades as an MP and then you’re booted out for disagreeing with an unelected Prime Minister on a single vote? Wut?

Conservative MP for Broxtowe (Anna Soubry) and Labour MP for Nottingham East (Labour’s Chris Leslie) decided to leave their old bands and form a new one called Change UK. No-one liked or bought their new records. 

Nottingham and Karlsruhe celebrated fifty years of city twinning with a beer, an exhibition, various exchange programmes and not a single mention of the war. 

Art and Theatre

The year started with a bang, with February's UKYA 2019, an arts music and pretty much everything else festival which bought with it 250 artists from 25 countries across the whole city. For those of you that were around in 2012, it was like a mini WEYA. 

It was a year of celebration for Nottingham Contemporary, who reached the grand old age of 10 with a load of fun parties and an exhibition about pop culture and Bauhaus. Also celebrating were New Art Exchange, with Chief Exec Skinder Hundal finding his way onto the Queen’s birthday list with an MBE. 

Ian Hislop came to launch a satirical exhibition at Newstead Abbey, which gave us a chance to run the headline Have I Got Newstead For You! Print fiends Dizzy Ink upped sticks from Cobden Chambers and moved in with the Nottingham Writers’ studio to form a new artsy venue The Carousel

Lakeside Arts began the year with another cracking Chinese New Year celebration; including two screenings of LeftLion’s documentary Lord of Milan (which also went back to Ningbo in China in April). Lakeside ran the successful Wheee! Festival in June; and believe us that ‘h’ is important when you’re dealing with children.

Nottingham Playhouse started the year being announced as Regional Theatre of the Year by The Stage, which is a pretty big deal. They also welcomed back alumnus Sir Ian McKellen in June for an event that raised over £50k for charity. Young ‘uns Nonsuch Theatre got all grown up and took over a building on Lower Parliament Street, including a 100+ capacity theatre. We’ll be doing a Christmas celebration there on 20 December if you want to come check it out.

The Theatre Royal and Concert Hall appointed Peter Ireson as their new Venue Director in August and put on a solid run of events throughout the year including Danny Baker (just days after that tweet got him sacked from the BBC), a strong Classic Thrillers season and my own personal gig of the year from Nick Cave. Just him, a microphone and a piano for three hours. Bliss. 

Okay, now it’s your turn to tell us about all the important things we missed out. Feel free to tweet us on @leftlion using the hashtag #NottsReview2019

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