Saturday’s concert by top Mod band DC Fontana made a stunning and appropriate finish to what has been a varied and exciting first year for the Bookmark Theatre in Elmore Row, Bloxwich.
And although the audience was a little down on recent numbers, the amazing 1960s-infuenced eight-piece from the Midlands, who are in constant demand all over the UK and Europe, were only too pleased to bring their irrepressible, original and powerful mix of 1960s-style pop, northern soul, rock and psychedelia to the stage in what has become an important cultural centre for the Walsall borough once more.
The high energy band gave one of their best-ever performances, blowing the roof off the theatre and getting people on their feet dancing with everything from their own original and truly fab music to a range of top 60s classics delivered with all the quality and power of any of the top bands of that era. The show concluded with an incredible version of Hush by Deep Purple, bringing a great night out to an unforgettable end.
Refurbished and re-launched by Walsall Council at the end of 2010 as part of the re-dubbed ‘Bookmark Bloxwich’ complex which also includes Bloxwich Library, the venue formerly known as Bloxwich Library Theatre has been given a new lease of life under the management of local volunteer group Bloxwich Library Forum, which books and presents the majority of evening events in partnership with Bloxwich Library. The forum, which fundraises for the theatre as well as deciding the programme, works closely with library staff and with highly-skilled resident theatre technician and multimedia guru Bruno Edwards, who manages the facilities there.
And in the twelve months since the re-launch of the theatre there has been more activity and excitement to be had in the 1964 building than has been seen in many years. Plays, a varied range of live music, panto, dance, poetry, open mic nights, charity events, literature and films have all featured, as well as community activities, seminars, meetings, lectures and extensive use by Bloxwich Library during the day.
The rebuild opened up the space between the theatre and the library, enabling the creation of a bar and a much more versatile and customisable space than before; the theatre can now be used in theatre/cinema mode, as well as night club and conference modes, with powered raked seating that slides out of the rear wall as well traditional tables and chairs.
Bloxwich Library Forum, which reconvenes in January, is already planning an even more varied programme of high quality events for 2012 – including the re-launch of the Bloxwich Film Society, first seen in 1964, when the theatre was equipped with 16mm film projection equipment. The revived group, working as an offshoot of the Forum, will launch in February and in the first year will offer a range of iconic films from the 1960s and 70s (to celebrate the origins of the building) projected in large-screen high definition video.
Bloxwich Library Forum will be launching a WordPress blog for Bookmark Theatre early in the new year. Watch this space for further news!
For more on DC Fontana check out their website.
Pictures by Stuart Williams – more available via this link.