Arts and Entertainment

Less than two years ago, the Manic Street Preachers played the 20,000-capacity O2 Arena. Now, they play to a tenth of that audience size, the intimacy of this west London venue - and others on this tour - ideal for their new, 11th studio album, Rewind the Film, which revolves around gentle acoustic modes. It seems that in their middle age the Welsh band are embracing subtlety (musically, at least).

Album: Various Artists, Sacred Songs for Worrying Times (Righteous)

A striking anthology of modern faith-based ruminations, some custom-built to fit the compilation's prescient brief, others sourced with impeccable taste from the likes of The Handsome Family ("Grandmother Waits for You") and Slint singer/guitarist Ryan Driver ("When Were You in Mexico").

Album: Various artists, Moondust, (Heavenly)

The best ideas are usually the simplest, and Andrew Smith's quest to interview all the men who've walked on the Moon turned into an award-winning bestseller.

The cultural events scene is booming - now it even has its own degrees

Think festival and most people conjure up a muddy field, a beer tent, some loud music and, depending on their taste, either one of the best or worst experiences of their life. Yet this limited scenario does the modern festival sector a disservice. There is a festival to suit every taste, be it the mega-crowds and headline bands of Glastonbury, the anarchic acts of the Edinburgh Fringe or the more rarefied atmosphere of the Cheltenham Literature Festival.

Mercury barometer: the stars on what the award did for them

Talvin Singh ('Ok' - Winner 1999)
People got to know my music that had never heard it before, so that is a positive point, and the Mercury Prize can stretch your career in that way, but I've never really taken much advantage of that because I've been on a bit of sabbatical from recording for the past few years. When I won you couldn't get my records for four months because the record company had never thought of me winning so they didn't stock up. So, for record sales, that didn't really help.
Tip to win: Burial

Guillemots aim to show they're no fly-by-nights

Elisa Bray speaks to the Mercury nominated band

Album: Elbow, The Seldom Seen Kid (Fiction)

"I'm asking you to back a horse that's good for glue," sings Guy Garvey on "Starlings", the opening track of Elbow's fourth album – though on the evidence here, this band is far from ready for the knacker's yard.

You Write The Reviews: Vincent Vincent and the Villains, De Montfort Hall, Leicester

I went to this Richard Hawley gig with the intention of reviewing the celebrated Sheffield crooner, and I can safely say that it would have been a good review. For the first time in years, though, I was excited and overwhelmed by the brilliance of the support act, Vincent Vincent and the Villains. Most people feel a twinge of annoyance when they have to stand through several support acts, but as an avid music fan, I'm always keen to see what bands lower down on the bill have to offer. Anyone who makes a point of just turning up for the main act would have missed out here.

You write the reviews: Richard Hawley, De Monfort Hall, Leicester

After the usual greetings, Richard Hawley issued the battle cry: "Let's ballad!" Heartfelt and serious in its baritone delivery, last Monday's show featured all that is good about Hawley. Lady's Bridge, released in late 2007, dominated the set while the Mercury-nominated Cole's Corner featured heavily too.

Inside Story: The 42nd edition of Midem

Midem used to be a bit of a jolly for the music business, especially for staff at the major labels. Networking, wheeling and dealing at Cannes, on the French Riviera, in January? What’s not to like?

Music: Turn on the DIY charm

Gomez Empire, Shepherd's Bush, London Super Furry Animals Academy, Brixton, London Longpigs Heaven, London

Theatre The Philadelphia Story Upper Campfield Market, Manchester

The Manchester story behind The Philadelphia Story is how a company stood in the street and watched the IRA's attack on the city bring the roof down on their theatre. If, infused with American spirit, they did not at that moment exactly say "let's do the show right here", the whole company has, in fact, damn near done that by opening, on time, just down the road in the engaging space of Castlefield's Upper Campfield Market.

Survivors of the business Ice Age

RECESSIONS for companies are rather like ice ages for the world of nature. The weak go out of business or become extinct; the strong remain to dominate the industry or their part of the planet. Huge profits can be made from identifying such companies and buying them early in the recovery phase when they can enjoy startling profits growth and make cheap acquisitions of struggling rivals.

The things these actors get up to

...well, I mean, says Julian Clary, it's just not polite is it? The comedian describes some sticky moments in rehearsal for his straight role in Jean Genet's 'Splendid's'

THEATRE / Otis interruptus: The odd word, an odder space. Marianne Brace watches rehearsals for one of the more claustrophobic shows in the London International Mime Festival

A small-time Mafia killer takes the lift to the 18th floor of a hotel. He makes his hit, returns to the lift and is stabbed by a moll. His past life begins to play out before his eyes. Been here before? Almost certainly. At least that's what Insomniac Productions director, Pete Brooks, hopes. L'Ascensore (The Lift) 'is about as incoherent a piece of work as I've ever made in terms of what you actually see,' Brooks says. 'But the audience finds it really easy to construct the gaps between the scenes because they feel they've seen it before.'
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Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – MS Swiss Corona - seven nights from £999pp
Lake Maggiore, Orta and the Matterhorn – seven nights from £899pp
Sicily – seven nights from £939pp
Pompeii, Capri and the Bay of Naples - seven nights from £799pp
Istanbul Ephesus & Troy – six nights from £859pp
Mary Rose – two nights from £319pp
Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little
Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform