Monthly Archives: July 2012

Band to watch: The Imagineers

The Imagineers

The Imagineers
Pic credit – Brian Sweeney

The Imagineers are a four piece band from Glasgow made up of Steven Young (vocals, rhythm guitar), Ali Greig, (bass guitar) Scott Bonnyman (lead guitar, vocals) and Stephen Forbes (drums)

They only formed around a year ago and their music shows hints of Spain mixed with a maudlin Glasgow feel but still retaining a cheeky optimistic youthfulness.

They’ve just played their first T InThe Park festival, stormed the stage at King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut in Glasgow and released EP See As I Say. Now they are adding the finishing touches to their debut album.

They are also creating a storm in America. Comedian, chat show host, one time musician and lover of music, Craig Ferguson, chose the band to appear on his Late Late Show. The show which airs on the CBS network flew the lads over to Los Angeles where they filmed two songs Mariana and Fairground, the latter will feature on August 7.  As well as this, five other songs which were recorded at Glasgow’s Tron Theatre, also aired on the show.

Here is a little Q&A with Imagineer bass player Ali Craig.

What is an “Imagineer”?

An Imagineer is somebody that has managed to hold on to their imagination and uses it to shape their life. It means anything goes, creativity.

You’ve just played your first T in the Park – what was it like for you?

We have wanted to play T for a while, it lived up to the hype and the whole band had a good gig … a rarity. Shoes were lost along the way.

Did you manage to chill out and see some acts at T – anyone impress you?

Anderson, McGinty, Webster, Ward and Fisher really impressed me on the T Break stage. I went to see the Horrors who were making some cool sounds in the Transmission tent. We were held in captivity behind the T break stage for most of the day.

Musical heroes? Do you all agree on your musical heroes?

We have a lot of common ground with the things we like. Bruce Springsteen divides the band, he will be the death of The Imagineers. We keep an open mind.

What kind of response are you getting to appearing on Craig Ferguson’s Late Late show? Are you getting lots of new fans from America? Your website and Facebook look really busy!

The sites have been busy, a lot of people living in America have downloaded our debut EP which is great just to know your music is diffusing throughout another continent.

What did you get up to in America – anything you can tell?!

We managed to keep our noses clean in the States, a cop did take our beer on the beach though. Customs didn’t like the look of us either, fingers were never far from triggers. We settled in very quickly and hung out in vintage shops, deli’s and bars. We made some friends and they took us out on Hollywood Boulevard which had some cool film noir style bars.

Have you any ambitions to go to America and tour at some point?

We would love to tour America, we will see how things develop. It would be a good way to experience the diversity across the continent. A demand seems to be building.

You’ve just released an EP – See As I Say – are you busy working on an album? How’s that going?

The songs are ready for a first album. It’s just a matter of setting a date, pressing the red button and going for it. We are working on new songs now to keep it interesting for ourselves. A lot of space themes are developing.

I love the song Mariana, is it about anyone/influenced or named after anyone?

Steven and myself shared the lyrics on Mariana, the song is about that feeling of desire. Sure, we had girls in mind, they are the strongest creative catalyst. Mariana won’t tow the line and she is heading for a fall.

It’s been an amazing year so far (and it’s only July!) what’s been your highlight – can you pick one?!

Coming home from America to a heaving gig at King Tut’s with a stuffed tiger flying above the crowd, it doesn’t get better than that.

Upcoming Tour dates:

July 27 – Voodoo Rooms, Edinburgh
Aug 4 – The Georgian Theatre, Stockton – Pogues Aftershow Party
Aug 11 – Bfest, Wick, Highlands  bfest
Aug 25 – Doune the Rabbit Hole, Tenement TV Stage  Doune The Rabbit Hole
Sept 1 – Live @ Troon  Live@Troon
Sept 8 – Queen of Hoxton, London
Sept 16 – Cabaret Voltaire, Edinburgh

For more information see:

Finally: a pretty cool video capturing lots of Glasgow.


Filed under Music

Macbeth, Tramway, Glasgow, June 26, 2012

Alan Cumming is brilliant in National Theatre of Scotland’s production of Shakespeare’s murderous play. I sat through the whole 100 minutes mesmerized by his one-man Macbeth performance.

Alan Cumming as Macbeth. Picture credit Albert Watson

Alan Cumming as Macbeth. Picture credit Albert Watson

Set in a Victorian hospital, we are introduced to Cumming, a disheveled wreck of a man, as a male nurse (Ali Craig) and female doctor (Myra McFadyen), take his possessions, strip him, give him pyjamas and admit him to the ward. Then as they part, confined within the high green tiled walls, Cumming shouts in dismay the play’s opener “When shall we three meet again?”

It’s an engaging start and from therein Cumming commands the stage as every twist and turn, slight nuance, movement and intonation sees him shape shift on stage, sometimes in contortions, sometimes more subtly, seamlessly slipping out of one skin into another, through the key characters of Macbeth, Lady Macbeth, King Duncan, Banquo, Macduff and witches.

The effect is dramatic, dark and disturbing. Occasionally the doctor and nurse appear to administer drugs, mostly they watch from a window above. There are CCTV cameras and sometimes distorted noise.

As the play unfolded the air was deathly silent. The silence only broken by a standing ovation at the play’s conclusion, when Malcolm (played by a doll), took his rightful place on the throne.

As a concept, it worked. The setting of a psychiatric hospital fitted with Macbeth’s unhinged mind, (“full of scorpions”) and the descent into mental illness, which is also displayed by Lady Macbeth. Having Cumming play all the parts could also be seen to further emphasize mental illness through split personalities and having other people and voices occupying someone’s head.

However, a lot of questions were left hanging in the air and at the performance I attended, Cumming and director John Tiffany conducted a question and answer session chaired by journalist Janice Forsyth.

Cumming has been working out. He’s lean, fit and agile, sometimes arching and twisting with the sly, sleek, suppleness of a cat, especially during a scene where Lady Macbeth seduces her husband. He often appears with a bare torso, he strips off to get in a bath and he is often only wearing pants. It’s showing someone at their most vulnerable.

“It’s the most fun you’ll ever have watching someone wearing grey pants” jokes Cumming. But he admits it’s draining, not only physically (he has new bruises every day) but emotionally.

He admits he’s been in places before where he’s not managed to let some roles go at the end of the night and he’s struggled, but this time all the characters are left at the stage door.

The play is directed by John Tiffany, known for the Black Watch, and Andrew Goldberg. Tiffany has recently won a Tony award for Once, an adaptation of the film starring Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová.

Tiffany was also reminded recently of an interview he gave to a newspaper years ago, when he claimed he would “never do Shakespeare.” On stage Tiffany laughed and explained that as a 14-year-old boy he didn’t understand the Bard’s writings. He felt too stupid for Shakespeare and the experience stayed with him.

There were a few school groups in the audience and perhaps the teenagers related to these sentiments. Some of them seemed quite awestruck at seeing Cumming, a Hollywood star who they’ve no doubt seen in films like Goldeneye and X2: X-Men United. They were eager to ask lots of insightful questions.

Tiffany also concluded that another advantage of their adaptation was that they could cut out the “boring parts” but still retain all the important text and plot, and some characters like Lennox and Scottish lords fell by the wayside.

The identity of the man in hospital caused debate. Initially he appeared as a victim but by the play’s conclusion he was the perpetrator of a heinous crime. Apparently during rehearsals he had the name of Fred.

And during rehearsals the characters seemed to take on their own identities. Tiffany said he would sometimes turn up on set and say “Lady Macbeth isn’t happy with her part.”

During discussions held with various medical professionals and psychiatrists it was revealed that Lady Macbeth is often looked at as an example for students studying OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder).

One of the interesting parts of the play which Cumming highlighted was the impact of how split decisions can alter your life. In Macbeth, the decision was made to murder, and the eventual and inevitable descent followed.

It seems Cumming is a bit of a workaholic, this was his “break” from his other job, where he stars as Eli Gold in the American legal drama series The Good Wife. Even during time off from Macbeth, Cumming has been giving interviews and appearing on television. And prior to rehearsals he recorded an audiobook of the play as well as Macbeth: A Novel by David Hewson and A J Hartley. Cumming seems to have a problem with sitting still, something which Tiffany joked about.

When asked who would play Cumming in a film, the answer was Cate Blanchett. It must be to do with her fabulous bone structure, something Cumming is also not short of.

Moving on to future work Cumming said he didn’t want other actors thinking – “oh that’s him – he’ll be wanting all the parts for himself.” He laughed “I will work with other actors. I’ve loved doing this but I don’t think I’ll be doing something like this again in a hurry.”

The play has finished its run in Glasgow and moves the Lincoln Center Festival in New York from July 5 – 14.

National Theatre of Scotland

Lincoln Center Festival

Alan Cumming Blog


Filed under National Theatre of Scotland, Theatre reviews, Tramway Glasgow