Monthly Archives: December 2014

Christmas Concert for Maggie’s Glasgow Oran Mor, Glasgow, December 7, 2014

Maggie's Glasgow Christmas Concert, Oran Mor, 7th Dec 2014

It’s the first time a Christmas concert has been organised for Maggie’s and I hope it becomes an annual event. It was well organised with a great collection of choirs, singers and musicians, and with a focus on Christmas, it was a heart-warming, inspiring and uplifting afternoon.

Kirsty Wark as Patron announced the proceedings, followed by Gillian Hailstones, the Centre Head for Maggie’s at Gartnavel. Some of the people in the audience have had some experience of Maggie’s and most of us know of someone who has had cancer.

The programme reminds us of a message from Laura Lee, Maggie’s Chief Executive:

“Our Centres are here for anyone with any type of cancer and their families and friends, offering the practical, emotional and social support that people with cancer need”

Maggie's Glasgow Christmas Concert, Oran Mor, 7th Dec 2014

The day started with a choir from Maggie’s, who we were told, had been practising fervently, and it showed. A surprise was a lovely crafted song called Sancta Maria.

Next up was the BBC Pacific Quire – which as the name suggests was made up with employees from the BBC, and they seem to be harbouring a few workers with hidden talents as their renditions of Gaudete, Silent Night and Away In A Manager ensured people captured the Christmas spirit. Their version of Wham’s Last Christmas showed an impressive solo vocal performance and some gorgeous harmonies.

Jerry Burns shimmered on the stage as she wore a silver glittery outfit and lovely skyscraper heels, and coming from a talented background of creatives and artists, she was joined by a younger member of the Burns family, her nephew Ryan Joseph Burns. And it’s such a treat to hear Jerry Burns sing, she has one of the country’s most beautiful voices. She accompanied Ryan on a few of his songs, including the dreamy melody Where She And I Were Born.

Then taking centre stage Jerry sang A Softer Place To Fall (After All), accompanied by Ryan.

Ryan also performed with  singer/songwriter Tommy Reilly on Old Habits Die Hard.

An interval allowed for some time to visit the tombola while having some mulled wine and mince pies – the sweet pasties that had survived a stealthy theft and swift snaffling from some greedy labradors. It seemed that someone’s pets had infiltrated the homemade mince pies – thankfully there were still lots to go around.

The second half introduced the music impresario Craig Armstrong. For someone who has composed movie scores for some of Hollywood’s biggest blockbusters, he seemed humble and unassuming.  He sat at the piano and was joined by the McOpera Ensembles – a string quartet from Scottish Opera, and played the theme from the movies Love Actually and The Great Gatsby.

Craig Armstrong and Jerry Burns go back a long way and there’s an obvious friendship and mutual respect. They have collaborated recently on Armstrong’s latest album – the excellent It’s Nearly Tomorrow and Jerry joined him to sing the haunting Powder.

Then it was the turn of Alistair Ogilvy to join Armstrong on stage for Wake Up In New York.

Closing the day was the West of Scotland Military Wives Choir and this collection of women were an inspired addition to the day. With the focus very much on Christmas, we were reminded that for various reasons some people may be facing a festive season worrying about their loved ones.

 

The West of Scotland Military Wives Choir at Maggie's Glasgow Christmas Concert, Oran Mor, 7th Dec 2014

Their version of the Karine Polwart song The Good Years was especially poignant and affecting. There were some lovely solo performances on On My Own from Les Miserables, Let It Go from Disney’s massive hit movie Frozen was a popular choice and Pharrell Williams’ Happy got the crowd clapping and singing.

The day ended with everyone on their feet trying to remember the order and actions of the 12 Days of Christmas and ensured that everyone left in a festive and good-natured mood with their hearts a little lighter.

Maggie's Christmas Music with Craig Armstrong and Friends

 

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Goldfrapp, Royal Albert Hall, London, 18th November, 2014

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The diminutive Alison Goldfrapp surrounded by the impressive London Contemporary Orchestra in the majestic setting of the cavernous Royal Albert Hall looked uncertain, somehow frail and nervous – displaced perhaps, like some Hollywood star brought back to life in the shaft of light that bathed her. She looked a bit like Marlene Dietrich. Staring out into the crowd,  she admitted she was nervous, it showed a charming vulnerability.

She is a true chameleon, you’re never sure what Alison Goldfrapp you will see. She displays the whole gamut of innocent childlike naivety, angelic otherworldliness, then she’s the sweet seductress, a screaming siren and a whirling dervish. In whatever form, her tiny frame with its powerhouse voice totally commands and captivates.

I’ve seen Goldfrapp many times and I imagine them to be sound perfectionists, every gig is note perfect, and this one was no different, apart from the feeling of occasion. While it may not be a “Last Hurrah” – it had the makings of one. Everything was pulled in, an orchestra, an amazing band, at one point the Lips Choir – made up of 54 female voices, and a special guest appearance by John Grant. Alison Goldfrapp and Grant proved an impressive double act as they sang the Lee Hazelwood and Nancy Sinatra hit One Velvet Morning, with Alison’s girly teasing a perfect foil for Grant’s deep throat masculinity.

The bulk of the night was a play through of latest album Tales of Us. The album is a departure from their electro-disco pop and very much a return to the vibe of Felt Mountain. So additional older songs such as Utopia fitted seamlessly into the set list. The carefully crafted and haunting songs of Tales of Us lent itself easily to the wonderful strings and arrangements of the orchestra.

Stranger is particularly beautiful. It’s a song to lose yourself in as you can feel the harmonies swirling around you, but watch the video which accompanies it and it’s a macabre and twisted contradiction.

It’s also begging to be used in a James Bond soundtrack. Goldfrapp should be creating movie soundtracks with their ease for crafting vast sweeping cinematic landscapes.

There were special programmes on the night, only 500 were made and each one was hand-stitched. They were numbered and signed by Alison and Will Gregory.

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Goldfrapp

The nerves, although apparent at the beginning of the night, soon subsided, and Alison need not have worried. The audience were in the palm of her tiny hand and this was a truly memorable gig that captivated from start to finish.

 

 

 

 

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