Arts and Entertainment Strum as you are: Kurt Cobain

What is the best gig you've been to at Brixton Academy? Perhaps it's Public Enemy, or The Smiths' final show in 1986? Simon Parkes bought the seminal venue for £1 in 1982 and what stories he has to tell in his new memoir Live at the Brixton Academy: a Riotous Life in the Music Business.

Ballet Nacional de España, Coliseum, London

In the name of Spain's national dance company, "ballet" simply means dance; in this case, a watered-down flamenco that lacks force or passion. Only guest star Tamara Rojo, here deprived of her pointe shoes, gives this evening some energy.

Where to eat, drink and be merry

From fresh oysters in Kent to liquorice in Yorkshire, there are festivals to tempt foodies all summer long. David Graham and Fiona Roberts pick the tastiest

National cask ale week: 29 March-5 April

North-West

Chatting at gigs - You talkin' over me?

Last week Simon O'Hagan argued that audiences should stop chattering at rock gigs. Here musicians and promoters give their reaction

Observations: A respectful plea for silence at the Brixton Academy

There were three of them, and they were standing right in front of me, yelling into each other's ears, shrieking with laughter, and generally having a high old time. And why not? Well I'll tell you why not. While all this was going on, Vampire Weekend were up on stage, giving the first of two shows earlier this week at the Brixton Academy. And this trio of concert-goers were not alone in preferring each other's incessant high-volume chit-chat to listening to a terrific performance by the zestful New Yorkers. There were plenty of other people around us who happily chatted their way through the music, and during the quieter songs a hubbub of conversation could be heard all over the auditorium.

God's Garden, Linbury Studio, London<br/>Breathing Irregular, Gate, London

Don't tell the bride &ndash; there are oats to sow in paradise

Travel Agenda: National Maritime Museum Cornwall; San Francisco's Asian Art Museum; Amanyara resort

Today: Throw light on the towers that protect ships from hazardous coastlines: the National Maritime Museum Cornwall in Falmouth opens an exhibition entitled "Lighthouses: Life on the Rocks". Running for two years, it will display a four-ton optic, reconstructed living quarters, artefacts, photos and narratives (nmmc.co.uk).

HMV looks to diversify with &#163;46m bid for Mama Group

Live music firm supports bid, but HMV faces battle with rival shareholder

Go-ahead for Ticketmaster and Live Nation tie-up

The mega-merger of ticketing giant Ticketmaster with the world's largest concert promoter, Live Nation, was given the all-clear by UK regulators today.

Phone thieves "targeting more live music gigs"

Music-lovers watching their favorite acts at live concerts are increasingly becoming targets for gangs of mobile phone thieves, British police said today.

Ruck and Maul: O'Driscoll still feeling hungry as big round figure approaches

The magnificent Brian O'Driscoll will win his 100th Test cap when he captains Ireland in their opening autumn international against Australia at Croke Park today: the reigning Grand Slam champions hosting the Wallabies, who are on the second leg of their own Slam hunt after defeating England 18-9 at Twickenham. "Australia are a very smart team, the smartest in world rugby," said O'Driscoll. "They think about how to break down defences, they're able to adapt on the pitch, changing from Plan A if they need to. That makes them dangerous, but also a great challenge. I have great hunger for the game at the moment and hopefully we'll pick up where we left off in March." Australia have lost twice on their last three visits to Dublin, which is but one example of the men in green's resurgence, while O'Driscoll – who made his debut in 1999 and has a respectable record of 39 wins in 56 matches as captain – has been around. "Keith Wood was the last Irish captain I played under and that feels like an eternity ago," he said. As he becomes rugby's 11th Test centurion, the 30-year-old centre has indicated his intention to play until the next World Cup in 2011 at least, but he would have to go on beyond that to reach former Australia scrum-half George Gregan's record of 139 caps. Second-placed Jason Leonard is a more feasible target on 119. Those queueing up behind O'Driscoll in the 90s include John Hayes and Ronan O'Gara (Ireland), Martyn Williams (Wales), Chris Paterson (Scotland) and South Africa's John Smit.

UB40, The Rainbow Courtyard, Birmingham

They have had number one singles across the globe and sold millions of albums. But this week, UB40 - a band more used to playing to packed stadia, stepped out onto the stage of a much smaller venue, the 350-capacity Rainbow Courtyard.

Live Nation deal with Ticketmaster blocked

Regulator rules UK businesses may have to be sold to overcome objections as companies claim deal crucial to future of ailing industry

Music degrees change to reflect rise of live music

Of all the pleasures in life, music must be one of the cheapest. You can turn on the radio, download a track for less than a pound or buy a CD. Even live gigs often cost less than a restaurant meal or trip to the theatre.

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Independent Travel
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – Five-star MS Swiss Corona 7 nights from £999pp
Lake Como St Moritz & the Bernina Express 7 nights from £809pp
Vietnam
Lake Maggiore, Orta & the Matterhorn 7 nights from £939pp
South Africa
Spain
Prices correct as of 19 December 2014
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