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Culture beat - August 9

16:21 09/08/2013
Post-Bond Brosnan, summer Madness, a long-running musical, the Bee Gees go Cajun... and all that jazz

Pierce Brosnan’s non-Bond filmography can be a tad surprising, taking in a sci-fi spoof (Mars Attacks!) and an Abba-based musical (Mamma Mia!), which earned him a Golden Raspberry, chiefly for his ‘interesting’ singing voice. Bless. Love Is All You Need, a Danish rom-com directed by the Oscar-winning Susanne Bier, thankfully doesn’t see Brosnan honour the Beatles’ back catalogue. Instead it pits him as Philip, whose son Patrick is engaged to Astrid, whose mother Ida has just comes home from cancer treatment to find her husband,  Leif, cheating on her. Want to know how it all ends? Watch it in the open air on Wednesday at Wolubilis to find out. Although the name and genre of the film would suggest it won’t end in a bloodbath.

A lot has been made in these pages of the Brussels Summer Festival, for a good reason: Madness are playing, and they are fantastic. All bias aside, though, the BSF is a gem of a festival, which costs next to nothing. When this city gets it right, boy does it get it right.

You may not have heard of the Belgian band The Moonshine Playboys, but you have heard the songs they play… only not like this. You see, the Cuvelier brothers (Bronson, Marvin and Mitchum) reinterpret hits from the past forty years (the Bee Gees’ Stayin’ Alive, the Sex Pistols’ Anarchy in the UK, Nirvana’s Come As You Are…) in a bluegrass / Cajun style: double bass, acoustic guitar, banjo and close vocal harmonies. While it certainly raises a chuckle or two, it can be a bit tiresome after a while. Thankfully, they also play their share of traditional bluegrass numbers. Catch them this Saturday in the intimate surroundings of L’Alphabet in Auderghem.

Outside Brussels 

Antwerp’s annual open-air festival boasts an international programme of 16 acts, some of them world-famous and others soon to be. Unlike other local jazz festivals, Jazz Middleheim also spotlights an artist-in-residence. This year’s nominee is Armenian pianist Tigran Hamasyan (pictured); he will perform on three of the festival’s four days, each time with a different line-up and repertoire. The local scene is well represented, too. Belgium’s most famous (and, at age 90, longest-playing) jazz cat Toots Thielemans headlines opening night with his quartet. At the younger end of the spectrum is Melanie Di Biasio, the Belgo-Italian flautist and singer who has been lauded in recent years for her contemporary approach to a genre which is approaching its centennial. August 15-18, Park Den Brandt, Antwerp  

As one of the most successful musicals of all time, this cultural touchstone probably needs no introduction. But here’s one anyway. The brainchild of West-End guru Andrew Lloyd-Webber, Cats premiered in London in 1981. The story of the “Jellicle cats” who must make a decision about who gets to come back to earth with a new life became an instant phenomenon. It has been running for 32 years and was the longest-running Broadway musical until Webber himself dethroned it with The Phantom of the Opera. More than 50 million people in some 20 countries have seen Cats. Lloyd-Webber borrowed heavily from poet TS Eliot’s Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats, in which he describes the universe of the Jellicle cats. But it was Webber who gave them the gift of life (and the jazz hand). In English with Dutch and French surtitles. Until 18 August Kursaal, Ostend 

Written by PM Doutreligne and Georgio Valentino