Jack Dee: Why the long face?

He's got three films coming out, a new TV series and a stack of offers to talk about. Just don't expect Jack Dee to smile about it, says James Rampton

Before the week is out ...: See this

HOT ON the heels of De La Guarda and Stomp comes Blast!, another category-defying theatrical experience. The cast is made up of 70 young brass, percussion and visual performers who present high-speed choreographed routines to a musical repertoire ranging from classical to didgeridoo. There's plenty of twirling, tossing, trampolining and daring stunts. Just don't go along with a headache - it's not what you'd call a quiet night out.

Rock: Progressive rock? But this is the 90s

Just when you thought you'd heard the last of prog rock, Genesis and Yes decide to make a comeback. Mark Wilson was there

High comedy brought low by funny business

THEATRE

Off the box and off the boil

COMEDY

Pop / Sheryl Crow, Hammersmith Apollo, London

For a boho bird singing songs of freedom and rebellion, Sheryl Crow has driven herself hard of late. Not weird, like, say, Tori Amos, and not too glam, like, say, Aimee Mann, this literate Missouri troubadour delivers Carveresque tales of blue-collar anguish, disappointment and hope - a kind of distaff Springsteen or Mellencamp, sheathing the sad stuff in a velvet of funky, country-tinged R&B with an edge.

DANCE:From the bog country, matadors on speed

IRISH folk dance is not what you expect to find pulling them in at a 3,000-seat rock venue. But then no dance tradition has ever been hyped like Riverdance. Tens of millions have seen it in its seven-minute, televised form - on Eurovision, The Royal Variety Show and at the VE Day do. Now Riverdance - The Show has come to town and the majority of the crowd blocking pavements outside the Hammersmith Apollo in hope of returns can no more name the finer points of Irish hard-shoe than they can name the Pope. Traditional Irish dance has stepped out of the museum and through the small screen into the glare of showbiz. Suddenly, Irish dance is It.

Too casual to take the limelight

Rock

POP MUSIC : What a guy. What a swinger

In case you didn't already know this, Tom Jones - the man with the incredible swivelling hips - is now hip. His audience at the first night of his three shows at the Hammersmith Apollo was full of cool people wearing black clothes. (including Chr issy Hynde, the lead singer of the Pretenders); his new album (The Lead and How to Swing It) has been produced by men with names like Youth and Flood, and they've got Tom Jones to do some rapping on it. Rapping! The man is 54, and he sounds like he inven ted Nineties dance music.

Metromania: Fans in Freddie's footsteps

No matter how gracious, some queens cannot be saved. It's three years since Freddie Mercury left us for a better place - Rio, one fondly imagines - but the fans haven't forgotten. November sees a month of fan fund-raising - often in 'full regalia' - as the devoted take to the streets of London, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Birmingham and 16 other British cities to collect for the Mercury Phoenix Trust. The charity drive ends with a concert by the Queen clones Magic at the Hammersmith Apollo on 30 November. Be there or be somewhere else.

COMEDY / Fool with your life: James Rampton reviews Billy Connolly at the Hammersmith Apollo

Being friends with the Duchess of York can seriously damage your cred. Certainly, it's just one of a number of 'sell-outs' that Billy Connolly has been accused of over the years. Others include: moving to England, moving to LA, moving to Ad-land, moving to beardlessness, moving to teetotalism. Such carping ignores one key fact: Connolly is still an extremely funny comedian.

Clubbing together: The International Dance Music Awards ceremony takes place tonight. James Style examines an attempt to mass-market the dance scene

All the stars in the dance music firmament will gather tonight at the Hammersmith Apollo for a new awards ceremony, The International Dance Music Awards (IDA). A benefit event, with the proceeds going to music industry charity Dance Aid, the IDA have been put together by Kiss FM, the London-wide dance music station and dance magazine Mix-Mag. The evening starts at 7.30pm and takes the form of other awards ceremonies: celebs handing out the awards in different categories, intermingled with live performances. Those on stage include: the Shamen, the Prodigy, Dina Carroll, Apache Indian, Gabrielle and M-People as well as appearances from the Stereo MC's, Soul II Soul, Shara Nelson and Alison Limerick. Tickets, priced at pounds 15, are apparently selling fast.

Rink on the brink: A rave has taken London's only rollerskating club into profit. But now its future is under threat from the council. James Style reports

Forget the bright lights of the West End; if you want some real fun, head for the Lea Valley Trading Estate. Drive round the North Circular until you get to the most depressing part, somewhere between Tottenham and Walthamstow, turn into a dirty industrial estate and you've arrived at London's only rollerskating rink, Roller Express.

ROCK / Nothing flat in Fenland soul

'ROUGH', ''tired' and 'a bit infected' - these are some of the words East Anglia's new Queen of Soul Dina Carroll uses to describe her own voice at the Hammersmith Apollo. The crowd is not fooled.
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