Concert Review: Tom Bailey / B-52’s / Culture Club 9-7-18

life tour 2018


I have Been meaning to post this for over 3 weeks now, better late than never i suppose! I rarely take off work to go to concerts, not because I’m a huge work-a-holic or anything – it’s simply because I have a position in which taking a lot of tome off can result in me getting severely behind in work. This results in me missing out on most of the shows I want to really see in any given year. This is especially true with metal shows as they ALWAYS seem to be at random times on Wednesday nights for some ungodly reason around here. I work a weird late shift, and when most people are out doing cool stuff, I’m usually sitting behind a desk doing endless reports and slinging papers.

There are a few exceptions to this, like that time I saw The German electronic legends themselves,  Kraftwerk, on their first foray into Kansas City in nearly forty years, or another time when I played hooky to see Dave Wakeling’s force of nature that is The English Beat.  For today’s topic, I will be discussing another concert like this – one of my “bucket list shows”. These are bands and artists I want to see before I die or they break up or stop performing altogether. Both The B-52’s and The Thompson Twins are in my top ten of favorite 80’s new wave bands of all time, and I like culture club quite a bit so going in I knew I was in for a treat..  


The Venue:

From Wikipedia:

Starlight Theatre’s history began in the 1920s when the Kansas City Federation of Music Clubs advocated the construction of a theatre “under the stars.” Fundraising began with the 1926 visit of Queen Marie of Romania, who had helped secure her country’s support for the Allied forces during World War I. Romania had recently opened its oil fields to America’s Standard Oil Company, so the queen’s tour of the U.S. carried considerable diplomatic significance.

In her six-hour visit to Kansas City, Queen Marie joined President Calvin Coolidge as an honored guest at the opening ceremonies for Liberty Memorial, which was dedicated to the remembrance of World War I. Later that evening, she enjoyed a music concert held at the American Royal Building where thousands of visitors paid admission fees for the chance to see her as well as the organized festivities. The proceeds of $7,000 were earmarked for the construction of an outdoor theatre in Kansas City.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Starlight_Theatre_(Kansas_City,_Missouri)

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I haven’t been to Starlight Theater in like 20 years or something – I know I attended a production of “The Music Man” there with my parents when I was a teenager (96-97 I believe), but haven’t been back since for reasons of me not paying close attention to most venues, and the fact that I did not drive until I was well into my twenties. That was until recently since I started using a site called Jambase to see all the shows going on around me. That sounds like an advertisement, but it’s really just me hyping a solid website.

Not visiting Starlight more is a shame since I want to say that this venue was one of the more pleasurable concert experiences I’ve ever had. That is saying a lot since the day of this show was a rainy one, and we all had to bust out ponchos in order to avoid being completely drenched for the duration of the show. It was bad enough that Boy George even remarked during his set that they weren’t sure the show was actually going to happen until right before the gig started. Most venues would be insanely opportunistic and charge and arm and a leg for ponchos, but thankfully the vendors were selling some for a buck each. Yeah, they were basically glorified trash bags, but they kept me mostly dry. Had I wanted, I actually could have stood under covered roof area in the back, but I was lucky enough to get fourth row seats, so that simply was not an option.

Here’s a bad picture of my vantage point made hazy due to the rain and my phone not working well together.

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When entering, the staff of the venue were exceptionally nice, greeting every attendee and wiping their seats dry as we filed in. Had I decided to get up, I know there was food and beverages available, but I didn’t want to do the climbing over people and coming back thing that I absolutely hate others doing. If anything the staff and general vibe of this venue are a 180 degree departure from the vomit and booze soaked venues I’m generally used to, where a “good show” is one where you leave with your hearing intact and have successfully avoided being groped by drunk women, or punched by their Pantera-shirt clad boyfriend. Metal venues can be nice sometimes, but not like this, this is a different experience altogether.


Tom Bailey

Opening the show was Tom Bailey, the former lead singer of the popular 80’s band Thompson Twins. While this was not a Thompson Twins show per se, most of the songs performed were in fact by that band with the title track from his newest album, Science Fiction, tossed in to help show that he has some new material out there and to help promote it. I have, in fact, purchased and listened to his new album, and plan to review it on here very soon – maybe even this week!

While a few new songs wouldn’t have made me sad, I was beyond happy to hear all of the hits that made the Thompson Twins one of my go-to 80’s bands for all these years. Getting to hear songs like Lies, Lay Your Hands on Me, Doctor Doctor!, and Hold me Now live as something I would have never expected to do considering the break-up of the band and it looking like they will never get back together.Mr. Bailey hasn’t lost anything in his energy or singing ability – had I not known he was in his 60’s one could assume he was much younger. It was a short set, but I am very glad to have seen the show.

Here is the set-list of the show:

  • We Are Detective (Thompson Twins song)
  • Love on Your Side (Thompson Twins song)
  • Science Fiction
  • You Take Me Up (Thompson Twins song)
  • Lies (Thompson Twins song)
  • Lay Your Hands on Me (Thompson Twins song)
  • If You Were Here (Thompson Twins song)
  • Doctor! Doctor! (Thompson Twins song)
  • Hold Me Now (Thompson Twins song)


The B-52s

I was unable to ignore seeing the B-52s as I’ve been a fan of their odd punk/new wave sound for a LOOOONG time. I fell in love with their music in that resurgence they had in the late 80’s / eary 90’s when songs like Love Shack got big with help from MTV back when it was watchable. I had to miss a previous concert up here a few years before for personal reasons, and with the age of the band getting higher and higher I always see these opportunities as possible “last chance” affairs. I believe half of the band members are over 70 years old at this point, but you would never know that based on this concert – all of the zany stage presence and amazing songs sounded exactly like what everyone wanted to hear and nobody has missed a step.

I’m always a sucker for the song Rock Lobster, so hearing that live was truly awesome – I was also happy to hear some deeper cuts get thrown in there – Roam and Love Shack were both welcome to my ears as well. Fred Schneider had some pretty funny banter during the show, but a lot of it was based on the overall political climate going on at the moment – urging everyone to vote and to try to end the GOPs stranglehold on the government. The crowd was receptive to this aside from minimal boos when Fred mentioned Claire McCaskill which is a divisive figure in local politics right now. Other-wise one would imagine a concert for these bands would lean somewhat blue, so my general fear of a Red State backlash was unfounded.

And just like that it was all over, and amazing. Here is the set-list:

  • Planet Claire
  • Dance This Mess Around
  • Mesopotamia
  • Private Idaho
  • Funplex
  • 52 Girls
  • Roam
  • Party Out of Bounds (Party Mix.)
  • Give Me Back My Man
  • Love Shack (with Low Rider snippet.)
  • Rock Lobster

Culture Club

Seeing Culture Club was the big surprise for me at this show – I would say that I enjoy their music, but they aren’t really my favorites. To me, the fact that they have reunited was my biggest surprise, even though they do that from time to time, since they seem to be staying together this time, and even have an album lined up to be released soon (maybe I’ll review that as well – we’ll see).

One cannot downplay the might that is Boy George as a front man, he simply holds the audience in the palm of his hand and despite his age and previous issues with drugs and other issues has not lost anything that made him a worldwide megastar all those years ago. I’m no fashion guy, but the entire band was decked out in awesome suits, and it really gave the vibe that I was seeing something truly special. The band mostly played their hits with a handful of pretty solid cover songs mixed in including a quite solid version of David Bowie’s classic Let’s Dance.

The band’s musical spectrum ranges from vaguely ska-based songs, R&B music, and straight up pop rock songs so there was something there for everyone. If anything, I left this show knowing that I was able to see a musical legend back in his prime after a few stumbles and a solid cap to a great night.

As with the other two, here’s the set-list.

  • Let’s Dance (David Bowie cover)
  • It’s a Miracle
  • I’ll Tumble 4 Ya
  • Let Somebody Love You
  • Time (Clock of the Heart)
  • Runaway Train
  • Everything I Own (Bread cover)
  • Do You Really Want to Hurt Me? Different Man (with gospel coda)
  • Miss Me Blind
  • Church of the Poison MindEncore:
  • Life
  • Addicted to Love (Robert Palmer cover)
  • Karma Chameleon (followed by mash up of Aretha’ s Chain of Fools sung over Led Zep’s Heartbreaker (Band Intros))

  • If any of these bands come to your area, I would definitely recommend checking them out, and for those that live in the Kansas City area – do yourself a favor and see a show at Starlight – very solid venue and amazing staff.

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    Concert Review: English Beat w/ Deco Auto 3/24/17

    I used to have a long commute to work every day, so my chief companion quickly became my car stereo. It took about a year, but I ended up rage-quitting local radio stations completely once I realized that my local “hard rock” station was garbage and that my local “alternative” station was basically folk music garnished by seemingly mandatory Pearl Jam songs. I bought Sirius XM to alleviate all my radio woes, and immediately fell in love with a channel on there called 1st wave.

    Whenever I tell folks that I’m into 80’s new wave music, I think a lot of folks assume I love bands like Hall and Oates or something, but honestly I’m only really into that late 70’s – early 80’s scene that sprang up (mostly) in the UK – great news, that’s what they play! I think one of the first times I was listening to 1st Wave Dave Wakeling (of the English Beat and General Public) was on a talk show segment hosted by Richard Blade and I immediately realized just how much I loved the band, and my love for ska was re-energized.

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    Readers may recall a while back I was talking about “trying to see more bands on my ‘musical bucket list'”, so when The English Beat popped up on my Jambase page I had to immediately snag some tickets. I’ve always been a fan of ska music, so getting to hear one of the pioneers of the 80’s second wave of ska/two-tone/reggae was definitely something I’ve wanted to do. Some of these bands rarely come over to the United States anymore, but the good news is that Dave Wakeling happens to live in California, so he tours here all the time.

    Before I get into the show itself, I wanted to talk about the venue the show was held in, Knuckleheads Saloon in Kansas City, MO. This was my first time at this venue, and I was really impressed. I’m not a big blues aficionado, which is the style of music most featured at this venue, but I’d love to come here again –  I’ll have to keep an eye out on acts coming in from time to time. This is a promotional ad, but shows off the Place better than I could attempt to describe it.

    The compound is made up of a number of venues, with our concert taking place in “The Garage”. This was a roomy music hall with standing room at the front and back, a bar, and some tables – since we arrived early we were able to score some choice table seats.

    The supporting act for this show was a local band called Deco Auto which is a power pop band in the vein of a lot of those early 90’s alternative bands that used to get tons of radio play like Weezer and Superchunk. While their music isn’t really my standard listening, they were pretty good even though they had a few technical difficulties during their set. For a few of their songs, one of the vocalists was sadly muted lower than she should have been so we really couldn’t hear the full impact of their music. The highlight of their set was a cover of the Blondie Song “Hanging on the Telephone”, which is always fun to listen to.

    Their Bandcamp page

    Oh wait, you thought you had seen all of my crappy concert pictures in previous posts, think again – this is a snap of Deco Auto doing their thing.

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    Next up was the main event – finally getting to see The English Beat live! Honestly the band shows absolutely no signs of loosing any steps – the music sounds every bit as good as the original albums from 30+ years ago. The set-list was the following:

    Rough Rider, The Tears of a Clown, Hands Off…She’s Mine, Twist & Crawl, Rude Boy Skank, I’ll Take You There, Save It for Later, Whine & Grine/Stand Down Margaret, Too Nice to Talk To, Can’t Get Used to Losing You, Sole Salvation, Tenderness, Ranking Full Stop, Mirror in the Bathroom

    There was a LOT of music from their first album which coincidentally is my favorite album of theirs due to the heavy ska and reggae influence. later albums somewhat shifted to arena rock, which is good, but the older stuff is my preference. conspicuously absent was the song “I confess”, perhaps one of their biggest hits, but I’ll gladly trade it for “Tenderness” from General Public.

    This iteration of the band is Dave Wakeling on vocals, Nucci Cantrell on drums, Matt Morrish on sax, Kevin Lum and Minh Quan on keyboards, King Schascha on vocals and MC duty, and Brad Engstrom on bass guitar. For those unaware, there are actually two touring versions of the band going around – one helmed by Wakeling and another helmed by Ranking Roger, former bandmate of Wakeling’s in The English Beat and General Public. It seems as though there is no bad blood between the two, as the band originally broke up because the rest of the band wanted to stay in the UK and joined the Fine Young Cannibals, Wakeling moved to the US at some point and it was simply too hard to be a band at that point. Both Roger and Wakeling wanted to tour as themselves, but were always labeled as “The English Beat” so they embraced it.

    The cool thing is that both singers bring a bit of a different flavor to the music, so having new albums coming out from both bands this year is a blessing for fans. I recently picked up Bounce, the new album from the UK version of the band – hope to review it on here at some point.

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    All-in-all, I had a blast at this show, and hope to get to see the band again next year as they release their new album Here We Go Love. I was also glad to see that despite the age of the band there were fans at the show from pretty much every living generation in attendance. I keep thinking that we’re long overdue for a fourth wave of ska music to get big in the US, seeing so many people supporting a band like this makes me hope that’s true.

    In case you’ve never seen this band:


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    Concert Review: Voodoo Glow Skulls w/ The Uncouth 3-5-17

    Any Concert that lets me where a ridiculous Lucha Libre mask during the show (see above picture), is an A+ in my book! Thankfully, the Voodoo Glow Skulls happened to have some at their merch table, so I was all set. In fact, Lucha masks should really become the new hot fashion tend, I think it’s well past time for it to fall into popularity. All Joking aside, I was able to attend a outdoor night show at a local music venue called The Riot Room this past weekend, one of my first punk shows (I usually do metal shows). I don’t normally attend punk shows, mostly because the type of punk I like is largely not super popular anymore. I’ve never been a huge fan of hardcore, despite liking a few bands, and that pop-punk explosion in the nineties was something I think most old-school punks would have utterly hated as it was basically Hot-Topic in audio form. Thankfully, this show happened to be both types I actually like listening to conveniently in one small package.

    This was a very short show for two bands (two hours and some change) so I don’t have a ton to talk about, so think of this as a punk version of one of my reviews on here – short and sweet. As usual, get ready for bad cellphone pictures galore.


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    Opener: The Uncouth

     

    Here is the band’s Facebook Page

    Bandcamp page

    Oi! is the old-school UK punk music scene that popped up in the working class areas back in the late 1970’s and 1980’s with the direct goal of uniting all working class punks. The prevalent ideology of the original Oi! movement was a rough brand of working-class rebellion. Lyrical topics included unemployment, workers’ rights, harassment by police and other authorities, and oppression by the government. This is exactly the sort of music the Uncouth specializes in. Being a big fan of eighties music, I was amazed that a modern band could capture that sound so well as this concert.

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    Hailing from Kansas City, Missouri, The Uncouth take the banner of all of their predecessors, and add a mid-western American flair to it – while the accent is different the sentiment is the same. One reason I don’t enjoy a lot of modern punk music is that it’s a bunch of songs about being a tough guy or losing a girlfriend, and thankfully this sort of band takes everything back to it’s roots. For instance, a song like Jonesy’s War is about a veteran of the Afghanistan war coming home to find that he can’t readjust to his old life. Resorting to drinking and other self-destructive tendencies, Jonesy is still basically at war, and as the chorus shouts, “Jonesy’s a prisoner of war!” It’s a far cry from bands like Sum 41 and Blink 182.


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    Headliner: The Voodoo Glow Skulls

    Their website

    The other kind of punk music I like is ska-punk because I’m a huge fan of old-school ska music (and I’ll be getting to see The English beat in a few weeks). When most folks think of this type of music, they tehy of the sort of stuff that always plays at the Van’s Warped Tour every year, bands like Reel Big Fish. Not being a fan of those guys, I wwas pumped to see The Voodoo Glow Skulls coming to Kansas City after a buddy of mine showed me some of their stuff a while back. And honestly, any band where the lead singer sings a few songs wearing a lucha mask is great.

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    Outside of California, this Mexican-American ska punk band is perhaps best known for having some of their songs pop up in movie soundtracks.The song “Shoot the Moon” from the band’s Firme album was used in the Pauly Shore movie Bio-Dome and the band’s version of “Used to Love Her” (originally written and recorded by Guns N’ Roses) is featured in the Mr. & Mrs. Smith soundtrack. They mix a lot of old school ska styling (they sort of remind me a bit of Bad Manners) with their Latino heritage into something  awesome. I feel like the United States is due to another ska revival after the one in the mid 90’s fizzled out – here’s hoping they sound like these guys!

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    This show had a small, but great crowd, and I saw my first ska version of a mosh pit. Since I’m too old to jump in there (I usually mess my back up moshing) I admired it from afar, doing my standard head-banging that I usually bust out at shows. I will have to keep tabs on the local punk scene more, because if bands like this are starting to get big in Kansas City, I may have to attend more shows.


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    Concert Review – Kraftwerk (2015)

    I know some folks see hundreds of concerts before they even graduate high school, but that was never really a part of my life growing up. At one point, I was even more into music than anything else (more than anime, sci-fi, or wrestling GASP! ) but I went through a few phases of changing musical tastes, and grew up poor, so my exposure to new bands and concerts was at the mercy of MTV and VH1. It’s only been in the past few years that I’ve had both the disposable income and friends that enjoy live music that I have been attending more concerts than I ever have in my life. I’m one of those guys that usually won’t go to the theater or see live entertainment by myself because, to me, that’s super lame.

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    One thing I’ve especially been trying to do is see shows from bands on my “musical bucket list”, especially ones where band members are getting old, and it might be close to time for them to be retiring….or worse. I still feel sad that I never got to see David Bowie in concert, that is assuming I would ever have had the cash sitting around to do that when he was touring on a consistent basis, but the thought is still there that I missed out.

    That’s why I jumped at the chance to see the legendary German electronic quartet, Kraftwerk, when they went out on a North American tour about a year and a half ago. Apparently, they had not been to Kansas City since the mid seventies, with that sort of frequency, this was basically a once in a lifetime show! Why didn’t I post about this then? Well, this blog wasn’t as open to this sort of topic then, and I wasn’t posting as much due to personal stuff going on. Now that Arcadia Pod is open to whatever I want to write about, I plan to review some concerts I attended recently as well.

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    We knew we were in for a treat when we were handed 3D glasses. What IS a 3D concert anyway? we were about to find out!

     

     

    When we were seated, a guy that I will characterize as an aging yuppie (as well as a gaggle of the drunkest and most-drugged out fiends he could find) looked back at my wife and I, both in our early 30’s (I’d assume they were 50-ish), and remarked at how confused he was to see folks our age at a Kraftwerk show. Indeed, Kraftwerk is ostensibly a band of the 1970’s and 1980’s, but they have been a big part of my life for as long as I can remember. Anyone that is a fan of electronic music, new wave music, or even hip hop music should know about Kraftwerk and their contributions as they were decades ahead of their time.

    I recall many days in rural Kansas where I would watch educational TV on PBS; these were the days before I had cable, as satellite was the only real way to get anything other than local channels out into my neck of the woods. I watched PBS more than anything else, and I honestly credit that with the fact that I was slightly accelerated in a few topics in elementary school. A few of my favorites were an old show called 3-2-1 Contact, and another called Newton’s Apple, the latter having an amazing theme song that I loved.

    I would later find out that this theme song was in fact, a song called Ruckzuck by a band called Kraftwerk that my mom had a few records by – most notably 1974’s Autobahn. I won’t pretend that I was enamored by the full length LP of Autobahn at that age, because it was far too complex and long for me (22 minutes for the title song alone!) but the band’s name stuck with me. It wasn’t until we moved to Kansas City, and got cable, that I would sometimes see Kraftwerk Videos on Vh1. I immediately fell in love with their sound. So yes, annoying drunk guy at concert – I do know who Kraftwerk is, turn around and let me enjoy the show!

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    The biggest thing that caught my eye going into this concert was the promoter tagline and marketing listing this as “a 3-D concert”. “What does that even mean?” I said to myself, was this just a bit of marketing goofiness or was there really going to be a 3-D element to the show? Fast forward to us standing in line, and being handed small red envelopes with 3-D glasses in them (seen above). I knew that Kraftwerk usually employed giant media screens as a way to make concerts more exciting, as four guys standing at keyboards can be sort of boring, what I didn’t know was how much this 3-D was going to change the concert game for me.

    Considering Kraftwerk also actively pretend to be robots on stage, a lot of stage charisma is sort of out of the question, they need gimmicks like this to enhance the music. Upon the opening few seconds of the song “Numbers” the awesomeness of this 3-D was made clear as the theater was filled with huge lime-green numbers floating in the air and loud cheers from everyone in attendance.

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    This picture really doesn’t do it justice, I’d love for a home video release with glasses.

     

    All of the songs (over two hours worth without an opener) were arranged in album suites with some featuring full-length cuts of longer songs such as Autoban and Tour de France. They opened with five tracks from 1981’s Computer World, starting with Numbers as mentioned above. this was followed by songs from Radio-Activity, Trans-Europe Express and more. Almost all of their major albums had some sort of representation here, minus the first two albums that were more “stoner rock” than the electronic sound they eventually settled on.

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    The famous song Radio-Activity, got a new line added about Fukushima

    This was the full set-list, honestly do yourself a favor and see this show if it continues past this leg.

    Numbers; Computer World; It’s More Fun to Compute; Computer Love; Pocket Calculator; Metropolis; The Man-Machine; Spacelab; The Model; Neon Lights; Autobahn; Airwaves; Intermission/News; Geiger Counter; Radioactivity; Electric Cafe; Tour de France: 1983, 2003 (Etape 1), 2003 (Etape 2); Trans Europa Express/Metal on Metal/Abzug. Encore: The Robots; Aero Dynamik; Planet of Visions; Boing Boom Tschak; Techno Pop; Musique Non Stop.

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    Perhaps my favorite Kraftwerk concert thing is where they take a break and are replaced by actual robots for one song.

    One of the cooler parts of the concert, for me, were those small hints of improvisation that were sprinkled in from here or there. I know some folks try to bad-mouth acts like Kraftwerk and Daft Punk as being guys that press play on stage, but that isn’t how this works at all. you could tell that the guys were up on stage actually mixing samples and re-arranging things as they went. while it might have been tightly controlled German engineered chaos, it was still cool to hear.

    The highlight of the night was probably Tour De France, there was just something about the mix of video and songs that I wasn’t really expecting. My favorite Kraftwerk album has always been Trans-Europe Express, and perhaps I have ignored Tour De France, but it really caught me off guard in a good way. Since this show, I have listened to it more because of the concert. Honestly the whole concert stood out as awesome, with no real dud anywhere in the set. The only let-down was when the lights came back on.

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    Metropolis had the best video presentation

    I will chalk this up as, perhaps, my favorite concert that I’ve ever been to. The attention to making this an “event” that you can only experience live was exhilarating, and I wish more bands would do stuff like this. this was a great show that is suitable for all ages, as there really isn’t any vulgarity or sexual content anywhere in their repertoire. That’s not a big thing for me, as I see stuff that’s definitely not for kiddos all the time, but it’s good to know that it’s out there without it actually being “for kids”.

    Glancing at Kraftwerk’s website, it looks like they are currently in the middle of a long European tour – so if I have any UK based readers that have yet to see this show, I’d recommend seeing if it’s coming to your town in May. As for US readers, fingers crossed that it isn’t another 40 years before the robots come back to town. In the meantime, check some videos out on Youtube, that’s almost as good.


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    An American View of British Science Fiction Ep 4 – Cons

    The McCoy Panel
    The McCoy Panel

    It’s been a few weeks since Planet Comicon, so this week Stephen discusses the rich convention schedule that has been popping up in Kansas City, MO in recent years. A big emphasis is placed on the fact that KC is turning into a place to meet a lot of the Doctors from Doctor Who!

    An American View of British Science Fiction Ep 4 – Cons