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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