Category Archives: Gig Reviews
St Luke’s is a music and arts venue based in a converted church in Glasgow’s east end. This beautifully restored Grade B listed building retains the church’s original features and includes stained glass windows and a pipe organ which dates back to the early 1800’s. Also within the venue is The Winged Ox bar & kitchen.
The venue was the perfect place to host the launch of Tenement TV’s – The People’s Film Collective – an event where music and movies come together, in unusual places.
Music came from Barrie-James O’Neill (Nightmare Boy) and The Bar Dogs. Celebrating the 20th anniversary of its release (is it really that long?!) we were treated to a screening of Baz Lurhmann’s Romeo & Juliet. And when the film reached its tragic conclusion (no spoiler alert – everyone knows how the story ends! ) with Romeo & Juliet dying on a church altar surrounded by candle light – it was fitting that we found ourselves watching the sad scene unfold in St Luke’s. Here’s a selection of photos from the night.
For more information on St Luke’s – see St Luke’s Glasgow Website
For more information on Tenement TV – see Tenement TV Website
Glasgow-based singer Horse may not be occupying the charts but she commands respect and has gravitas. September 2015 saw her celebrating the 25th anniversary of her breakthrough album The Same Sky, which upon its release, gained critical acclaim, with standout songs such as The Speed Of The Beat Of My Heart, Breathe Me and Careful. The latter of which was covered by Will Young at VFestival in 2009.
Rightly recognised as someone with a vast musical knowledge, married with life experience, she’s now a wise Scottish stateswoman, who gets called upon to host radio shows, comment on the music industry, she gives master classes to help up-and-coming artists and is an ambassador for The Clutha Trust. She also continues to bring much emotion to many people who find solace in the words of her cathartic songs.
Reaching people is important to Horse and it’s also apparent she still loves to perform. She has a faithful following who want to hear her. And when you sound this good – who can blame them? Horse still boasts one of the most remarkable voices in Scottish music.
I saw her recently at her annual Wintersong in December at The Union in East Kilbride, a small intimate venue, decked out with fairy lights. She ran through her songbook and sounded impeccable, even though she struggled with a heavy cold, an affliction which often causes Horse distress due to her asthma. When she sings it’s a very physical act as she puts everything into her voice, so the strain this puts on her can be quite considerable.
She’s a great storyteller who loves to chat, and the night was peppered with funny and sad stories, as well as dedications to the audience and great songs. Careful never fails to move the crowd and renditions of God’s Home Movie and Sweet Thing also stand out, as well as the cover of Dusty Springfield’s I Close My Eyes And Count To Ten.
The video below shows Horse singing this cover version at a previous Wintersong gig in Edinburgh.
This year Horse has already got dates in her diary. You can find her hosting the Gaia Women’s Supper at the Beardmore Hotel and Conference Centre in Glasgow on Friday January 29th. It’s a take on the traditional Burns’ Supper, but for women, and it’s all for a good cause, with money being raised for the Stonewall Scotland charity. Included in the price is a three course supper and entertainment. It looks set to be a great night. You can buy individual tickets priced at £49 or buy a table of 10 places for £490.
Horse also appears in an exclusive cover feature and interview in this month’s Gaia magazine out now – January 2016.
In March she’s touring the UK with a series of dates which will include Newcastle, Liverpool and Ladock in Cornwall.
And April will see Horse with a full band at Glasgow’s Fruitmarket on the 16th of the month.
When I worked at the Sunday Mail, one of my favourite interviewees was Elbow front man, Guy Garvey. I interviewed him on a number of occasions and he was as you would expect, full of affable good chat. One time he apologised for running a bit late and being out of breath because he was out buying “bacon butties for the lads”. The lads were Elbow bandmates, Richard Jupp, Craig Potter, Mark Potter and Pete Turnerand – and this seemed to sum him up. Front man/leader … but never too lofty to look after his mates and make sure they were well fed. Plus how can you not respect someone who often cites Glasgow band, The Blue Nile as an influence? Tune into his BBC 6Music radio show and you’ll hear his passion for great music.
I’ve also seen Elbow perform live many times, the last time I saw them they filled Glasgow’s Hydro and as usual the band formed a very tight unit.
But last year Garvey was flying solo. He launched and toured his album Courting the Squall in 2015. I went to see him at the 02ABC in Glasgow in December. I wasn’t sure what to expect because I couldn’t quite envisage him without his band mates.
However going solo for Guy Garvey isn’t quite “I’m going to lock myself in a log cabin and write an album”. It’s what Bon Iver (aka Justin Vernon), did when he wrote his stunning debut album For Emma, Forever Ago, but I can’t imagine Garvey adopting that approach. Plus we’d miss his cracking radio show on BBC 6Music. No, going solo for Garvey is an opportunity to work with other people, and explore some other musical styles.
His solo album Courting the Squall was recorded initially at Real World Studios near Bath and completed at Blueprint Studios in Salford. It features a band created by Garvey who include Pete Jobson, from I Am Kloot as lead guitarist, Nathan Sudders from The Whip on bass, Ben Christophers on keyboards, Alex Reeves on drums and Rachael Gladwin who plays harp.
Courting the Squall is a good body of work. Three Bells doesn’t stray too far from Elbow territory, while other tracks show a jazz influence, such as Electricity, a luscious torch song, which features a duet with Jolie Holland. Performed live however, the album soared to a new dimension and really shone.
The funky Belly of the Whale was brought to life by the horn section, Angela’s Eyes was a bluesy jam, Harder Edges was boosted by some big brassy instrumentation and the plaintive, lovelorn vocals of Garvey crooned perfectly over Electricity.
A particular highlight was the steady thrum of Yesterday, a swirling hypnotic melody.
Elbow are now stadium fillers, so it was good to the see Garvey in a more intimate space. The Glasgow gig was the last date of a short tour, and the mood was relaxed and loose. In typical style, the banter flowed. The band corrected Garvey when he mixed up the set list, he shook his head and confessed to getting old. And there were a lot of laughs along the way as Garvey engaged easily with the crowd. A frontman like Garvey with iconic anthems to his name such as One Day Like This, could find himself touring solo and facing audiences expecting to hear Elbow songs on the set list. It’s testament to his new work that in Glasgow, there is not one shout for his band’s much-loved tunes.
The support act was the talented Steve Mason, formerly of The Beta Band and many other guises. And to close the night, we were treated to a rare live outing of The Beta Band’s infectious Dry The Rain, performed by Garvey and Mason.
Garvey is apparently rehearsing in Scotland just now with his Elbow band mates, I hope he’s found some decent bacon butties, or a good roll and square sausage.
TeenCanteen are a four piece girl band from Glasgow who make beautiful pop harmonies. Apart from sounding great, what impresses me about this band is their ethos and social conscience.
They support Scottish Women’s Aid and run an event called The Girl Effect, the second of which, called The Girl Effect #2, was held at Mono, Glasgow in November 2015. It’s where they brought together an impressive collection of Scottish musicians, and asked each of them to sing two cover songs. The only proviso was that the song choices had to originate from female singers. Some of the choices were surprising and inspired. And all the money raised from The Girl Effect was donated to Scottish Women’s Aid.
At November’s Girl Effect #2 – a total of £2146 was raised, add the takings from the first event, and it amounted to a grand total of £5602.72 which TeenCanteen has raised for Scottish Women’s Aid. It’s impressive. Apart from raising a whooping amount for a worthwhile charity, The Girl Effect was a slick, well organised operation, backed by excellent Scottish musical talent and an entertaining night. It attracted the likes of Kezia Dugdale, Scottish Labour Leader, Angela Constance, Education Secretary, Zara Kitson, who is currently running for female co-convenor of Scottish Green Party, SNP MP Alison Thewliss and Annie Wells, Scottish Conservative & Unionist Candidate, who all arrived on the night to support the event.
To keep the night running smoothly there were a lot of bands and musicians to get on and off the stage, added to this, there was a raffle, which boosted some great prizes, and if you wanted to shine you could even get your face adorned with glitter.
The list of bands ensured there was something for everyone, from the gorgeous Cairn String Quartet, to the rock of Skies Fell and the spellbinding vocals of SAY (Scottish Album of the Year) 2015 winner Kathryn Joseph and the heartbreaking tones of Jo Mango, who sang the beautiful November by Azure Ray – a perfect choice for her.
Edinburgh based Broken Records, were joined on stage by two TeenCanteen members (Carla Easton and Sita Pieracinni) for a rendition of The Supremes’ Stop In The Name of Love.
The video clip below comes from BMX Bandits and Duglas T Stewart – who were also playing at this event. This shows TeenCanteen performing their own song, Honey, accompanied by the Cairn String Quartet.
Worth a special mention is Skies Fell – who performed an outstanding version of the Shakespears Sister hit Stay. The lovely Kathryn Joseph will always leave a room spellbound and her song choices included Call The Shots by Girls Aloud and I’ll Set You Free by The Bangles.
Rounding up the end of the night was the always popular BMX Bandits who sang That’s How Heartaches are made by The Marvelettes and It’s Gonna Take A Miracle by the Royalettes, the latter being sung by BMX Bandit Chloe, who is also part of TeenCanteen.
And TeenCanteen finished with some excellent song choices – Trouble by Shampoo, Waterfalls by TLC, I Know Where It’s At by All Saints and their own song Sister.
A cracking night from a band who show a great passion and conviction for what they do.
Buy their single Sister and 20p from each download goes towards Scottish Women’s Aid.
Download via: TeenCanteen Bandcamp Download
And they’ve got some live dates coming up. See them:
Sunday 17th January, 2016, 02 ABC, Glasgow, (afternoon show – 2.30pm), as part of Celtic Connections.
Wednesday 27th January, 2016, Sneaky Pete’s, Edinburgh, (afternoon show – 2.30pm) as part of Independent Venue Week.
Thursday 28th April, 2016, Summerhall, Edinburgh
Friday 29th April, 2016, CCA, Glasgow
Glasgow-based TeenCanteen formed in 2012. They are Carla Easton (lead vocals, keyboards), Sita Pieracinni (vocals, bass), Chloe Philip (vocals, guitar) and Deborah Smith (vocals, drums).
See more at TeenCanteen Website
For more about Scottish Women’s Aid – see Scottish Women’s Aid Website
In a disappointing summer, a surprisingly almost balmy evening greeted the Magners Summer Nights sessions. It was a perfect landscape for this sepia-tinged nostalgic evening. There was a viewing of the film From Scotland With Love with a musical backdrop performed live by King Creosote. The film is a cinematic patchwork quilt of old black and white film showing Scotland and its people throughout the decades. We see people at work and play. We are reminded of many of our now defunct industries, the lifeblood of which ran through the country’s veins. It was a time where work was hard, physical graft, but as people worked hard, they played hard too. Often they were saving all their time and money for those precious days away on Scotland’s packed coastlines. And it’s where we see the beauty pageants, the men and women dressed up smartly in their best clothes, queuing for ice creams, building sandcastles, swimming and frolicking on sandy shores.
The team behind the film includes director Virginia Heath, producer Grant Keir, editor Colin Monie, while Fife’s King Creosote (Kenny Anderson) composed a gorgeous soundtrack which gives a voice to the footage.
There’s songs like Pauper’s Dough which accompanies scenes of manual labour, protests and riots, and the words “You’ve got to rise above the gutter you are inside”.
One Night Only is a rollicking romp through people at play and although it’s all light-hearted fun, as with most King Creosote lyrics, there is a dark edge, and an air of added mystery as we search for the character in the line “Wayne is appearing for one night only”. And he could be anyone lurking in the shadows, standing observing from afar or mingling among the crowds.
Director Virginia Heath was commissioned to create this documentary film to coincide with the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games. It’s an excellent piece of work backed by a sensitive soundtrack. Both are available to buy and come highly recommended.
See links below for more information:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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”
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.
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.
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.
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.