Tag Archives: live gig review
Record Store Day, an event to honor the UK’s independent record shops was founded in 2007. It’s held on the third Saturday of April. This year Glasgow’s Tenement TV opened their doors and put on a great collection of bands to celebrate.
With a line-up that included Crash Club, Barrie-James O’Neill, aka Nightmare Boy, Other Humans, The Bar Dogs, Gangs and Strawberry Wine – the tenement was rocking its foundations all day. Here’s a selection of photos and videos from the day.
For a list of the records released for Record Store Day 2016 – see Record Store Day Website
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.
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.
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.
It’s a mystery why Horse isn’t more widely recognized. When you think of Scottish female vocalists, it’s difficult to think of anyone who could surpass her vocal talents, and when she’s tackling a cover version, she picks the most difficult songs to test her vocal range – and she always nails it.
It seems to be a permanent fixture on the Horse gig calendar for a “Wintersong” slot, which tends to be something special. This time it was held inside the Dirty Martini bar of Le Monde Hotel in Edinburgh. It proved a perfect venue. The intimate setting had small tables and chairs facing the stage while fairy lights created a magical atmosphere.
A stripped back gig, Horse was accompanied with only a piano played deftly by Michael Abubakar who occasionally added in some backing and harmonizing vocals.
The set list was a mix of Horse’s own impressive back catalogue, some old and some new. She also chose some excellent cover versions, including fans’ favourite, Bring Him Home from Les Miserables.
I have seen Horse perform on a variety of occasions in different settings. I’ve also seen her backed by the Scottish Chamber Orchestra which was truly spectacular, but standing at the other end of the spectrum, this pared back gig stood out. The smallness of the venue and sparseness meant her voice was truly forefront. Every little intonation and change in range was felt and heard. Some notes were held on to for so long that it seemed impossible had you not heard it with your own ears. Her cover version of the Dusty Springfield classic I Close My Eyes And Count To Ten was simply stunning and perfect for her.
Her cover of the Lady Antebellum song I Need You Now was also sublime and fitted the reflective mood of the set list.
Cover versions aside, she’s got plenty good songs of her own, some are over 20 years old and timeless. There was the seductiveness of Breathe Me and a pared back Careful.
A warm and engaging performer, Horse loves to chat, and in between songs there was plenty of easy banter. People relate to her honesty, sincerity and vulnerability. She’s experienced the sadness of losing her parents and she’s experienced the happiness of love and getting married. She wears her heart on her sleeve and people love her for it.
This was her final gig of 2013 and it was a fitting and reflective round up to a busy year.
Going into 2014, she’s already got a Spring tour lined up for February, she’s taking part in Celtic Connections in Glasgow on January 20th and she’s part of a women’s poetry reading night in Kirkcaldy on January 25th in celebration of Robert Burns’ night.
For more information see: Horse Website
For more information on Celtic Connections see : Celtic Connections 2014 Website
A horse gig is full of drama but it’s also a very human affair. Most aspects of ordinary life come under inspection, because Horse usually has a song she’s written about them in her back catalogue.
And at this gig at the Barrowland there were songs which dealt with life, marriage, death and children.
The stage was as packed as a busy weekend at well … the Barras, and it was also a rare opportunity to see the Scottish Chamber Orchestra on stage in this venue. Horse has appeared with them before in the Barrowland, but way back in 1995. This reunion saw the orchestra expertly conducted by Sally Herbert.
Also on stage were Horse’s band of musicians together with backing singers, Chris Judge, Madaleine Pritchard and Stefanie Lawrence, all stars in their own right.
This wealth of talent which crowded the stage set the bar high. But as soon as Horse appeared and kicked off the gig by singing Careful, we knew the voice was there. Her vocal range was spellbinding and best seen in the sad and sultry Breathe Me from the Same Sky album.
It’s also the 20th anniversary of Horse album God’s Home Movie and we heard a wonderful rendition of the title track, as well as a dip through the impressive back catalogue with Automatic, Some Wonderful, Sweet Thing and Catch My Fall, which featured an amazing string-lead intro from the SCO which the band and backing singers followed up on.
The tracks from the latest album Home are perhaps reflective of Horse’s current situation. She tied the knot at the start of this year, and this batch of songs sounded happy and joyful. A particular highlight was the jaunty and romantic Alanna’s Waltz, named after her partner.
Moving on from marriage to children, we heard the lovely Starfish which was dedicated to little ones. And from birth and new life we went to the other end of the spectrum where we were gifted a rare outing of An End Of Days. A song Horse has never sung live before. It was written after the loss of her parents, and it proved to be a particularly tender and thoughtful moment as the Barrowland fell silent.
But there was also time for celebration as Horse got her aim to get the “Barrowland bouncing” during a lively Shake This Mountain.