Monthly Archives: May 2015

Beltane Fire Festival, Calton Hill, Edinburgh, 30th April 2015

It was a perfect night to herald in the May Queen as a quiet calm descended over Edinburgh’s Calton Hill and an almost full moon lit up the way for the crowds that gathered.

Beltane Fire Festival, Calton Hill Edinburgh, 2015

 

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Beltane Fire Festival, Calton Hill Edinburgh, 2015

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Any martians visiting Earth that night dropping in on the grassy hillocks would have beat a hasty retreat back to the safety of their planet. They would have been met with nearly naked people painted red and dancing like demons, figures dressed as birds and animals, blowing on hooters, while others were covered in black paint and banging drums in a procession which announced the arrival of the May Queen.

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The night ended with the May Queen marrying the Green Man as a representation of spring and fertility.

Beltane Fire Festival, Calton Hill, Edinburgh, 2015

 

 

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May 31, 2015 · 10:45 pm

Will Butler, Art School, Glasgow, April 20 2015

Will Butler at Art School Glasgow

Photograph: Roberto Ricciuti/Redferns via Getty Images

Will Butler, younger brother of Win Butler, the Arcade Fire frontman, played a blinding solo gig at Glasgow’s Art School. And although his band can fill stadiums and headline festivals, you get the impression that some artists like going back to  their roots by playing small sweaty gigs.

As a frontman, Will disposed with chat to power through the music. With a minimalist stage set, which he set up himself with his band, a three-piece wearing black t-shirts, their names Julie, Sara and Miles, displayed in big bold white letters, it was a quick fire gig that delivered songs at a blistering pace.

He only has one solo album, Policy, which contains eight songs but he crammed in quite a few others to this hour long gig. The variation of songs allowed him to show off an impressive vocal range, at times deep and throaty and then high pitched and hollering.

He’s already said he’s influenced by Talking Heads, which was apparent in Anna and the toe-tapping dark growl of When the Sun Comes Up, while Sing to Me, is a gentle ballad.

The encore included a cover of the Violent Femmes’ American Music and the former poetry student also devoted some time to his Irish namesake William Butler Yeats by reading one of his poems.

 

 

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Filed under Gig Reviews, Glasgow, Live Music Reviews, Music, Uncategorized

Midge Ure, Town House, Hamilton, March 21, 2015

Midge Ure

This event was billed as part of a Young at Heart Festival and it was a night of two halves. The first half was a sit-down interview with Midge conducted by Scottish broadcaster and music journalist Billy Sloan, followed by a second half where Midge performed some old and new songs.

It was a format that worked, no doubt due to the relaxed and well researched interviewing style of Billy and his subject Midge having such an interesting wealth of stories to draw from.

The evening felt like sitting in someone’s living room and listening to some easy banter, but where the stories are all interesting and engaging, and you’re not looking for an escape route to the kitchen.

Obvious topics for conversation were Midge’s collaborations with Bob Geldof, when the two hooked up together in the 80s and pulled off the Live Aid concert on 13th July 1985.  Although they were obviously ambitious and passionate about their cause, I don’t think they anticipated just how ground-breaking an event they were embarking on.

Bob Geldof and Midge Ure

Bob Geldof and Midge Ure

Those of us who remember a world before social media and the internet, can appreciate how difficult it must have been to pull musicians together for the Band Aid single. And Midge admitted that on the morning of recording, they were in the studio nervously waiting, with no idea who was going to turn up and who would sing what lines. Duly recorded the single was whizzed over to Radio One on a cassette tape. Remember those?  A magical moment was when Midge turned on the radio and heard it getting its very first exclusive airplay.

And it was inspirational to hear how a young boy from Cambuslang managed to forge a career in the music industry and realise a dream, grafting in early bands such as Slik and Rich Kids and then forming the seminal Visage with Steve Strange.

Steve Strange and Midge Ure

Steve Strange and Midge Ure

There was also a stint with Thin Lizzy, where he answered an SOS call from Phil Lynott, after the abrupt departure of Gary Moore, which saw Midge on a flight to New York, learning guitar chords on the way.

It was an interesting and engaging chat full of fascinating stories which could have gone on for longer.

After an interval Midge backed with two excellent young male musicians performed some of his best known tracks and some from his new album Fragile. It’s his first release of original music for over a decade, although he has been recording other material during that period, such as a covers album, some live CDs and the latest Ultravox album Brilliant. Fragile, you could say, is a solo album.

It’s also the 20th anniversary of the Breathe album and he’s currently on a Breathe Again tour around the world. He has released an album called Breathe Again – in celebration, which includes the entire Breathe album and four bonus tracks (Lament, Fade to Grey, All Fall Down, Become).

It’s difficult perhaps to imagine an acoustic version of one of the most iconic tracks of the 80s – Vienna – but it worked, as did a brilliant version of Visage’s Fade To Grey. And Midge poignantly paid tribute to Steve Strange who sadly died this February.

Midge Ure

What was evident from this evening was that after over 40 odd years in the music business and now at the age of 61, Midge is as passionate about music now as when he started. The old songs stand the test of time and judging by the new songs, he’s still got plenty to say.

He’s currently on tour – for more information see: Midge Ure website

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Music & Movies: Celtic Connections / Glasgow Film Festival – 2015

Music can make a movie. The right choice of music in a film can reduce you to tears in the first quiver of a carefully placed violin string.

At this year’s Celtic Connections festival in Glasgow, composer Craig Armstrong showed how music can complement the silver screen. His concert at the city’s Royal Concert Hall displayed his compositions against a backdrop of the movies his works have featured in.Celtic Connections 2015 logo

Armstrong is the man Baz Luhrmann calls upon to wave a magical musical wand over Hollywood blockbusters such as Romeo and Juliet, Moulin Rouge and The Great Gatsby.

The Great Gatsby

As we watched film clips and listened to Armstrong playing piano accompanied by Scottish Opera’s Orchestra, he took time out to highlight other talented musicians, such as Clio Gould who played violin on The Great Gatsby.

Other films featured were The Quiet American and Peter Mullen’s Orphans as well as Oliver Stone’s The World Trade Center with cellist Alison Lawrance performing solo.

Films scores withstanding, Armstrong has his own works, with collaborations throughout the years including Jerry Burns and Elizabeth Fraser. His latest album, the sublime It’s Nearly Tomorrow, includes vocals from Jerry Burns, who also joined him on stage during this Celtic Connections performance.

Craig Armstrong - It's Nearly Tomorrow

And when the songstress took to the stage, there was an air of anticipation. Burns seemed slightly nervous during This Love, taken from album The Space Between Us, but when she sung Dust from It’s Nearly Tomorrow, she was totally at ease and it was truly magical.

Another highlight of the night was Love and Money’s James Grant who performed a cover version of Nat King Cole’s Nature Boy, a song which was used in Moulin Rouge!  Grant’s version rumbled with a deep soulful timbre scaling the heights to a cinematic explosion. The effect was out of a James Bond movie – think classic Shirley Bassey sending shivers up the spine with her 007 signature themes.

Jerry Burns and James Grant also collaborated on Powder from It’s Nearly Tomorrow, their  very different voices complementing each other.

Vocalists Katie O’Halloran and Lucia Fontaine also shone on One Day I’ll Fly Away and Crash.

If you haven’t already bought Craig Armstrong’s album It’s Nearly Tomorrow, it is highly recommended. You can also hear his works throughout the Thomas Vinterberg adaptation of Far From The Maddening Crowd, released in May 2015.
 Glasgow Film Festival 2015

Setting music to film also played a part at the Glasgow Film Festival, during an evening entitled A Night At The Regal, held at Glasgow’s 02 ABC.

This was an eclectic mix of music which included John B McKenna of Monoganon singing along to a home movie of himself as a toddler, his face illuminated by torch light, an experimental set by Edinburgh based eagleowl and Joe McAlinden singing vocals for Edit, a thought provoking short film.
Headlining the night was British Sea Power, who faced the screen and sung vocals to Penny Woolcock’s movie From The Sea To The Land Beyond.
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It’s film which is a British social history lesson depicting everything from industrial heavyweights such as oil refineries and ship building to British holiday-makers frolicking on sandy beaches. The film footage is captivating as it passes through the decades and British Sea Power’s music proved a perfect fit and conveyed all emotions from the carefree holiday makers skipping on the beach to the heavy industry of the sea.
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Filed under Festivals, Film Reviews, Films, Glasgow, Glasgow Film Theatre, Music, Uncategorized