New Season, Same Worries.

Being an Everton fan has never really been easy. David Moyes brought us relative success with a small budget and gave us some good memories but we were always still on the edge. An appearance in the Champions League and an FA Cup Final, as well as solidifying ourselves every year in a Uefa Cup/Europa League position in the league, but no trophies and no real intent. When Moyes left and Martinez came in it provided fresh hope for everyone and we had exciting football for the first time in a good few years. However we lacked defensive capability and never had a plan B and we quickly became exposed and started losing more games than we were winning, leading to a poor league position and the sacking of Martinez.

But we now had money and yet again new hope in the shape of Farhad Moshiri and Ronald Koeman. However pretty much instantly that hope was dashed when the money was invested terribly. Despite the odd game here and there and a few shining lights in the team, Koeman’s Everton failed to provide and he quickly lost the fans with poor, repetitive team selection and the same excuses every week. Moshiri also lost the fans with the appointment of Sam Allardyce, resulting in the worst Everton performances since Walter Smith was in charge.

Allardyce inevitably got the sack at the end of the season and has since been replaced with Marco Silva, a man Moshiri has already trusted with a lot of money in this summer transfer window. However again it seems like a massive amount of money getting invested in average players. He has gotten rid of some dead weight in Ashley Williams and Davy Klaasen, and insists that Ademola Lookman is staying, somebody who I personally feel should be getting a lot of game time and should not be let out on loan. There’s a few more I feel should be gone like Mirallas and McCarthy, but the most important thing is to get a good Centre Back in. We’ve been linked with Mina from Barcelona who performed excellently for Colombia in the World Cup and he would be a great addition but I think we need more than one. I don’t know much about Lucas Digne but apparently he can play there despite primarily being a Left Back but at the same time he needs to be playing in his position because Leighton Baines as much as I hate to say it, has been on the decline in the last couple of years. I want him to stay at the club, as I do Phil Jagielka but they both should be used as back ups at the moment.

Obviously the big focus in the first few weeks will be on Richarlison. A massive price tag on him I’ve heard multiple reports but the most frequent seems to be £35 million plus add-ons. It’s a lot of money to pay for someone who I don’t really remember being outstanding for Watford last season but the manager obviously has a good relationship with him and sees something in him. I also think Cenk Tosun will come good this year given the service. He’ll have had time to build a proper relationship with Walcott, Lookman, Sigurdsson, Niasse, DCL, Dowell, and Richarlison and hopefully with a more attack minded manager he’ll be able to score a decent amount of goals for us this season.

Goals however I don’t think will be our main problem. As the blog post says I have the same worries as usual. At the moment if we make no new signings our defense is probably one of the weakest in the league and it doesn’t matter how good Jordan Pickford is, he can’t save everything. There are going to be gaps everywhere and teams are not going to struggle to exploit them. I certainly worry about playing teams like City, Liverpool, and Arsenal, their pace and quick passing are going to rip us apart the way we’re playing at the moment. We won one friendly 22-0 or something stupid against a team of semi-pros, drew 1-1 to Bury and I think it’s been 4 losses since then, the most recent being 3-2 against Valencia, the most promising performance but also the one that showed more of our weaknesses than any other. I’m hoping maybe we’ll do an England and with no expectation from anyone this year they’ll actually do quite well but I’m not holding my breath and I’m really worried for the coming season.


Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets with a Live Orchestra – Echo Arena Liverpool – 1st December 2017

As we all know The Chamber of Secrets is the 2nd film in the Harry Potter series and is the 2nd (and last) time I’ve paid what I find to be an extortionate amount of money for this live Orchestra experience.

I bought tickets the first time at £50 (money my friend still owes me nearly a year on) because it seemed like a novel idea. I’m not a Harry Potter fanatic like a lot of the people who paid even more for the floor seats, but they’re enjoyable films, John Williams is a legendary composer, and I like listening to Orchestras. Also the Echo Arena sells Crabbies Fruits in those plastic bottles that make them taste better and that’s always an added bonus. This might actually have been the deciding factor in going to see the 2nd one I’m not really sure. Anyway there was something not quite right about the first film and I thought possibly it was just where I was sat. It was still good, just not quite as good as I expected. So the second one comes around and obviously having been to the first one I thought I might as well go and see this one but have more central seating, and as much as they were still £50 (extortionate) I went ahead and bought them.

This isn’t like one of my usual film reviews anyway I’m not going to explain the plot of Harry Potter to you, if you don’t know it by now you probably don’t want to. I’m reviewing it as a show as opposed to a film. It’s a big arena, the tickets are pricey, it’s supposed to be spectacular, it’s supposed to blow your mind, but it just doesn’t. It’s underwhelming and disappointing, and as much as I had better seats, I went with my girlfriend instead of my friend and we had a lovely evening, the show is just so average. I’ve seen the film before, I’d probably go so far as to say I watch it annually, but it never costs me £50, there’s never any distractions, and the soundtrack is just as prominent watching it at home as it is with this set-up. That sadly is where this ‘experience’ massively lacks.

It’s supposed to be a show with a live Orchestra, yet the Orchestra are so in the background that they’re forgettable. There were only 3 parts of the film I actually felt like I was listening to live music; the start, the quidditch match, and the end. Even then the end was the most infuriating part of the entire thing. 

In the event’s defense this part is not their fault, but arguably, the best part of the film musically is the end credits. There’s no dialogue interference and it’s a great piece of music, yet what happens in this city with one of the greatest and most iconic musical histories in the World, half the arena leaves. I was all excited for the end, the clapping for the end of the film had finished and the Orchestra were ready. Or where they? I couldn’t see them, because a horde of fucking morons were walking in front of me to leave. But maybe it wouldn’t be too awful because I’d still be able to hear them. Oh yeah I couldn’t, because the horde of fucking morons sounded like chatty elephants with clogs on. It topped off the event for me and made me sure that I definitely won’t be going to see the 3rd installment which I’m sure will be coming around to steal money from everyone next year.

In all seriousness about the cost, I’ve exaggerated the annoyance of it and I understand how much it costs for an entire Orchestra to be travelling around the country, but I went to see Hans Zimmer with his Orchestra in the same arena for only £5 more, and so I have to compare it to that. People left Hans Zimmer in tears because his music and his show was that powerful and that emotional. John Williams’ music can do the same thing, okay maybe people shouldn’t be crying at Harry Potter but that’s not the point, the Orchestra here added nothing, they were irrelevant, and that’s what was so disappointing about this because you leave feeling like it could have been so much better.

John Wick: Chapter 2 – 2017

I’m back to watching films and I’ve got a lot of back log from as far back as late 2014 so the next few posts will probably be a bit all over the place, but let’s get straight to one of my favourites, John Wick.

After returning to the criminal underworld to repay a debt, John Wick discovers that a large bounty has been put on his life”

The first installment of John Wick was one, if not the best action film of the last decade, only really rivalled by the Taken franchise for me. Although I did also have a soft spot for The Equalizer which came out at a similar time to John Wick. There’s also been a few decent low budget ones but they all seem to be the same thing, either corrupt police with one good guy left, or taking down a drug cartel. Also as much as the entire Taken franchise is good, I think we can all agree that the first one was by far the best and in comparison the 2nd and 3rd were minorly disappointing. So I went into seeing this film with high hopes but also with doubts.

First of all the synopsis that I’ve quoted from IMDb doesn’t summarise or even really give you any idea of what the story is but if you’ve seen the first one, which I assume you have if you’re reading this, then you’ll know what it’s all about anyway. Secondly, the few people I’ve spoken to about this film showed the same disappointment in it that I did at Taken 2. Nobody seemed particularly over enthused about it and said it was nowhere near as good as the first one. I think part of the problem was that it was overhyped; there were endless trailers for weeks before this film actually came out that the first one simply didn’t have and as much as it might have made it more money at the cinema, it did have a negative impact on the viewing of the film. It also didn’t have the surprise factor that the first film had. We knew his story now, we knew there was going to be endless action, we knew there was going to be betrayal, we were praying there wasn’t going to be another dog death (thankfully there wasn’t), but everything that happened in this film you knew was going to happen.

For me however none of that actually took away from how good it was. Alright it’s not exactly an Oscar-worthy piece of cinematic brilliance, but it’s fun, graphic, intense, has an excellent protagonist and the perfect actor playing him, and is an all-round good watch. There’s not really much else to say about it, I can’t go into the story in much detail because the story doesn’t have much detail. It’s a classic action storyline but with modernised action scenes and high quality graphics and camerawork that wasn’t available when this type of film was really popular.

One thing I can say and it’s a minor spoiler I suppose but it’s hardly going to ruin the film of you haven’t seen it, is that it does set it up for there to be a third and probably final film that should be the most action packed yet, and that I am very excited about.

Lordi (supported by Silver Dust and Shiraz Lane) – Hangar 34, Liverpool – Review

A few months ago I went to see Lordi for the first time since I first became a fan (Eurovision 2006 obviously) and as promised I thought I would write a little review. I don’t know a great deal about music, I just know what I like and I feel like that’s all you need to know to enjoy yourself at a small concert like this.

I’ll talk about the opening band first though. A pleasant surprise as it was because there were no supporting bands advertised from what I had seen. I had never heard of either Silver Dust or Shiraz Lane but both put on excellent shows considering they didn’t have much to work with in terms of a crowd. There were probably about 200 people or so in there by the time they started but that actually made for a more interactive experience. Like me, most people seemed not to know who they were or what to think of them but after a song or 2 people got into it and “Lord Campbell”, the lead singer, was talking to everyone, getting everyone clapping, basically doing what a good front man should do. I’m still not exactly sure how to describe the genre Silver Dust fit in to but I enjoyed it nonetheless. I’m not sure it’s something I would listen to at home, but they’re a very good band to watch live. At the same time though I’m not sure I’d travel to go and see them, just if it’s local and convenient. I did like them but I didn’t love them.

Shiraz Lane are a different story. I haven’t done a great deal of research for this because well It’s all free and I don’t care that much but whatever that lead singer’s name is, he is phenomenal. I’m not just saying this because he’s Scandanavian and has long, curly hair (well maybe a little bit actually), but he really reminds me of Joey Tempest from Europe. Currently Shiraz Lane are an underrated band on the way up and I always felt the same about Europe. So many people knew them for ‘The Final Countdown’ and nothing else and they were always so much more than that. That guy has an insane range and knows how to perform on a stage. In a way he’s a throwback to that era and that type of glam metal but at the same time they have a very current, relevant sound and I think they’ll become something a lot bigger in the years to come. They didn’t do as much talking as Silver Dust and didn’t have the experience to maybe control the intimate crowd but they’re fantastic musicians with a special vocalist and I would love to see them come back to the UK soon, headlining their own show.

Finally Lordi, possibly the most entertaining band anybody could hope to see. I don’t know how I’ve managed to avoid them for so long but the 10 year wait to watch and listen to them live was very much worth the wait. I feel like they could play in front of a dozen people or in a festival in front of hundreds of thousands and bring the same energy because they love what they do. They love every aspect of performing and it shows when they’re on stage. I won’t go through the set list but they did a good mix of their most famous songs and their newer maybe lesser known tracks. It was unfortunate that you could tell that a lot of people were solely there for one song but it didn’t take away from the atmosphere that they created. There were a lot of people still singing along or who clearly knew most of the songs they played so that was good, but as I said they provide such an entertaining experience they could probably play to a room full of people who have no idea who they are and put on a good show. I genuinely cannot say a bad thing about any of these bands or the night in general. For me it’s not the same as going to see a band I adore from a musical standpoint, for example Alter Bridge who I went to see the following week, but it’s probably the most fun I’ve ever had a gig.

I’m glad the venue was changed last minute because this intimate style of venue suits this type of show perfectly. It wasn’t exactly easy to find but once you saw the tour buses and grouped up with other people who looked lost it was all good. I’ve got to say the staff were excellent. A strange layout of bar and only 2 bar staff on from what I could tell but they worked tirelessly all night. The security staff were excellent from start to finish and it’s all those little things that make a small gig like that work. All round amazing night and if I were to do it again I wouldn’t change a thing. Hard Rock Hallelujah!

Haven’t written anything in a while

I haven’t exactly been busy just not watching a lot of films or listening to music, I can’t really explain what I’ve been doing to be honest. But next Friday I’ll be going to see Lordi and then the following Wednesday I’ll be going to see Alter Bridge for the second time so I’ll be writing about both of those as well as an album review of The Last Hero. In the meantime I’ll try and write a few pieces about the couple of films I have seen since I last updated as well as a bit of wrestling and some games and music.

Game Of Thrones – Season 6 Review

*Spoiler Alert*

Another season of Game of Thrones seems to have swiftly come and gone and left us with lots to look forward to in 8 months time. Seasons 4 and 5 for me really disappointed so my expectations for this season weren’t particularly high and I don’t look forward to it as much anymore. Those low expectations though might have been what made this season seem so good. There were a few episodes in the middle of the season that as expected were a bit boring, but obviously storylines need to be set up and big events need to have anticipation. It’s all good writing really and that shows in the massive ratings that this show gets.

I always compare it to The Walking Dead because they’re the two biggest fantasy/action shows in the World right now and although very different I think that it’s fair to compare the two. Their target audience is somewhat similar, they’re both based on a different piece of fiction, and they both get massive ratings on a Sunday night in numerous countries. A few things that TWD has going for it is that the comic books are still being written, so it could be a seemingly endless program. That could prove a problem because it will be a struggle to keep it interesting for so long. TWD also has a lot more episodes per season, so the boring episodes in the middle that both programs have seem a lot less noticeable. GoT is a rare program with only the 10 episodes per season and per year. For a lot of people that adds to the anticipation and the excitement of the show and that’s understandable but at the same time out of those 10 episodes per season I feel like only 5 are really good and that’s not enough for me. There may also be 5 boring episodes per season of TWD but that’s 5 out of 20+.

Another comparison that can be made between the two are the vast amount of different storylines within the program. With the more episodes, TWD can get away with having a lot of different plots and can dedicate different episodes to one specific plot at a time. GoT has really struggled with that in the past and did so again at times this season. Towards the end of the season though a lot of the different storylines started to converge and we finally have a narrative we can actually follow without a lot of confusion. At the beginning of the season we had several different main characters in several different parts of the World with several minutes of the episode each and it was stupidly hard to follow.

The season did get progressively better though, with episode 9, ‘The battle of the Bastards’ being the best episode in the entire 6 series so far. With Ramsay Bolton dead though there needed to be a new villain we could truly hate and it seems like Cersei Lannister is yet again going to take up that mantle. She has been the main villain on more than one occasion but it certainly does not get boring. Lena Headey has been exceptionally since the first season and with The Mountain by her side she sits upon The Iron Throne once again. The ending saw a united Winterfell, led by Jon Snow with the backing of other armies and leaders of the North. Littlefinger is waiting in the shadows though, plotting something devious no doubt that involves his infatuation and obsession with Sansa. I’m not 100% sure if the next challenge Jon Snow and Winterfell face is from a different army, the Whitewalkers, or a threat from the inside.

Arya Stark is another one on a journey back to where she began. Her storyline since she was forced to flee has been very strange and all a bit pointless. It’s just really been a long-winded way of training her to be a clever killed and keeping her out of the way of the main characters so there can be a uniting of all the surviving Starks later on. I like Arya and I like Maisie Williams but I’d gotten really quite bored of her for about 3 seasons and I’m not sure it was worth the wait.

Obviously the biggest convergence in the storylines next season will be the appearance of Daenerys Targaryen and her massive army, along with Tyrion, and Theon and Yara Greyjoy. Lord Varys is also there with the woman and her daughters and that army. I keep forgetting about them so I have no recollection of any of their names. Let’s face it the only part they’ve played in anything remotely interesting is when Bronn and Jaime were there. I think I’m the only person who thinks this but other than Tyrion Lannister being by her side, the entire Daenerys storyline bores me. There’s sometimes good action in it and everybody likes a good dragon but I just don’t see the appeal in her. Most of that part of the story is all in subtitles that I can’t be bothered reading and it’s been pretty repetitive for the best part of the last 3 seasons. Sure she ends a few episodes in spectacular fashion but Tyrion has made it relevant and entertaining again.

A few other plots and characters that I don’t really know where are going or really where they ended this season there was so much to keep up with. Firstly and I think most importantly is Bran Stark, who’s now the three-eyed Raven. He has the ability now to manipulate the past and the future it seems but he completely disappeared in season 5 along with my interest level for him. Nobody seems to like his character but it seems he will have an important part to play in the next season or two. Secondly is Brienne: I don’t remember where she ended or what she’s doing next but I do like her. Thirdly The Hound, a very loveable character in my opinion. His return proved that unless you see the severed head of a character you think is dead, the chances are they’re not. He’s a brutal character that I can’t wait to see in the middle of a big battle again and I hope we do get to see that again next season. I have a sneaking feeling he’ll end up being killed (again) by The Mountain at some point. Although I’ve already mentioned her I’m not 100% sure where the Arya story is going next, she has plenty of people on her little list to kill but I’m sure she’ll run in to some more trouble on the way. Samwell Tarley is off to become a Maester in his own storyline and I assume at some point will end up back with Jon. Jorah has also disappeared on his own storyline but I’m not even sure he’ll return anywhere to be honest.

I think that covers about everyone. Again there’s so many to keep up with that it’s hard to know really. Overall I thought this season was much improved from the previous 2 or 3. It slowed down in the middle again but nowhere near as much as it has done previously, but the opening 2 episodes and the final 2 episodes were all amazing and it sets it up perfectly for season 7. The last 2 years haven’t left much to be desired or much anticipation for me personally but I’m definitely looking forward to the next season now. As much as this season has improved though it’s still definitely behind The Walking Dead for me. It just lacks in every department compared to that. It’s still better than TWD spin-off show Fear The Walking Dead but it has dropped down to my third favourite action-based fantasy show behind Netflix’s Daredevil which has been phenomenal for both its seasons now.

French Open Review

From football back to tennis now and a late review of how the French Open panned out. There has always been speculation about Djokovic’s game on clay and every tennis player in the last 10 years has been unfortunate that they’ve had to come up against Nadal but it was inevitable that at some point, a player as great as him was going to win the career Grand Slam. As if he wasn’t good enough on his own the luck seemed to be with him when it came to the draw. Federer withdrew before the tournament started and Nadal withdrew halfway through the tournament. That meant Djokovic had a reasonably easy run to the final, he still had to beat some good players, but he didn’t have a real challenge and never looked in trouble until the final. The luck was not with him when it came to the weather though, which was unfortunate not just for him but the audience as well. He was getting made the priority as the World No. 1 but that didn’t work to his advantage. He was on and off the court all the time and then often not only playing against his opponent but also playing against time.

His final opponent Andy Murray had a much more grueling time getting to the final, starting out with 2 five-set matches before becoming a bit more comfortable beating big servers in Karlovic and Isner before overcoming the crowd to dispatch French favourite Gasquet. For the most part he also dominated Stan Wawrinka in the semi-final. The defending champion had a good tournament but came up against a superb Murray and couldn’t replicate his perfection of the previous year. Wawrinka put up a valiant display to get the third set after being 2-0 down but Murray rallied superbly to get the job done in 4. Djokovic’s semi-final paled in comparison as he dominated in 3 quick sets, but you can’t take anything away from Dominic Thiem. The Austrian benefited from from the kindness of the draw but he played his best tennis and beat some very good players. I think we’ll be seeing a lot more of him in the coming months and years, as he rescued two match points against Federer in Stuttgart to win his first grass tournament of the year. He’ll definitely be someone to look out for at Wimbledon.

The final itself was of the highest quality between the two best players in the World at the moment. Unlike Stan last year though, Murray plays a very similar game to Djokovic, both pride themselves on service return and impenetrable defense. Wawrinka beat Djokovic last year with pure aggression. His power and accuracy was ridiculous for most of that match and is one of the few people to really win the battle of the mind games against Novak. For a while it looked as if Murray might be able to do it. The notoriously slow starter did the opposite and came out firing on all cylinders and took Djokovic by surprise. He forced him into mistakes we don’t usually see from Novak’s racket and took the first set with some comfort.

Murray though is always in a mental battle of his own and when Djokovic stepped up his game in the 2nd set Murray seemed to go to pieces. The overhead camera was yet again the source and target of his frustration as it had been throughout the tournament. What I don’t understand is how it manages to annoy him but nobody else. It’s there for every player yet he’s the only one who it ever bothers. Then a reporter trying to do an interview with someone in one of the players camps during the match set him off, shouting at both him and the umpire to “get him out”. All the while Djokovic was just phasing it out, improving his game all the time, getting Murray more and more frustrated. Every rally was long and it favoured Djokovic massively. Murray was trying other tactics but nothing worked. Novak both comfortably and emphatically won the 2nd and 3rd sets and despite a little bit of pressure, more from himself than Murray I feel, he won the final set and match, completing the career Grand Slam and etching his name in history.

Murray does have Grand Slams to his name and is in an unfortunate era to have to compete with Djokovic, Federer, and Nadal, but he is becoming known as the nearly man now, getting to a lot of finals but falling to the better player every time on the biggest stage. He plays the same style of Djokovic and it beats most people, but he’s just not as good a player in every aspect of the game. It’s small margins but small margins that count in every single point and match of their rivalry. Djokovic is getting close to Federer’s Grand Slam record and the calendar Grand Slam this year, and although I will always prefer Federer, Djokovic could become the greatest of all time in the next few years.

To a continuing giant of the sport to a falling one, Serena Williams yet again failed in her quest to overtake Steffi Graf and become the woman with the most amount of Grand Slam singles titles. She fell at the last hurdle at the Australian Open to Kerber, and she fell at the last hurdle again on the clay, this time to Garbine Muguruza. Muguruza is another powerhouse making a name for herself over the last couple of years. Similar to Serena, she is used to bullying her opponents off the court with consistently big hitting. She won the tournament in the best way, struggling at times but getting better as the tournament progressed. Williams did her usual, acted really odd and complained about a lot while playing like it was her first time on the court until she remembered she could play tennis and is better than everyone else. Credit to Muguruza though she didn’t let her get to that stage. She dominated on the important points, took her chances, and was ultimately the better player on the day.

A joyish occasion for Spain as they also won the doubles with Feliciano and Marc Lopez edging out the legendary Bryan Brothers. All in all it was a dismal French Open for the people in Paris when it came to the weather and organisation, but there was a lot of high quality tennis played and a lot of home grown talent on display from their point of view.