Tag Archives: Oran Mor

Janis Joplin: Full Tilt, Oran Mor, Glasgow – 17th September, 2015

Janis Joplin Full Tilt

You know something is good when you keep going back. I’ve seen the show Janis Joplin: Full Tilt, three times. Every time it’s been amazing, due to the stellar performance by Angie Darcy in the lead role. I can’t imagine anyone else depicting the singer’s triumphs and ultimately tragic end.

Janis’s story is told through a mixture of song and theatre bringing her character to life. We hear how she struggled to fit in in her native Texas where she was born in 1943. How she went to California to make music, where she partied hard, how she returned home but found the lure of music and the pull of California too strong and she returned in 1966. Peppered throughout the show are her famous hits including Piece of My Heart, which hit the number one spot, as well as the yearning Mercedes Benz and Kris Kristofferson’s gorgeous country ballad Me And Bobby Gee (a new and welcome addition for this updated version of the show).

Angie Darcy as Janis Joplin

Angie Darcy as Janis Joplin

Her larger than life character commands the stage where she is backed by an excellent supportive band. But for all the brash confidence, displays of flamboyance, and obvious talent, underneath is a vulnerable woman who harbours a need for love and acceptance.

We see her life sadly unravelling leading to her death, alone in a hotel room in 1970. She was 27.

The play is based on the singer’s own transcripts and as the lights go down, Angie Darcy remains silent, allowing a crackly recording of Janis’s voice to speak to us through the darkness.

The play was originally formed for Oran Mor’s A Play, A Pie and A Pint series, written by Peter Arnott and directed by Cora Bissett in association with Regular Music and supported by the National Theatre of Scotland.  It has since gone on tour to win many deserved awards and critical acclaim.

Janis Joplin

Janis Joplin

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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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Patti Smith, An Evening of Words and Music, Oran Mor, Glasgow 12/08/2013

“We were walking toward the fountain, the epicenter of activity, when an older couple stopped and openly observed us. Robert enjoyed being noticed, and he affectionately squeezed my hand.

“Oh, take their picture,” said the woman to her bemused husband, “I think they’re artists.”

“Oh, go on,” he shrugged. “They’re just kids.”

Extract taken from Just Kids by Patti Smith        

Just Kids by Patti Smith

Just Kids by Patti Smith
paperback book cover

Patti Smith is a musical living legend.

The 67-year-old created an intimate and mesmerising evening at Oran Mor, and it felt a privilege to be in her company. You could have heard a pin drop all night, and even though the audience was totally in her grasp, the iconic punk poet was confident, while also charmingly unassuming, a quality which seems to run through her excellently penned book Just Kids.

For the most part the book charts Patti’s early childhood, her move to New York and then her relationship with artist/photographer and one-time-lover Robert Mapplethorpe. Set mostly around the 1960s/70s, it’s a beautiful eulogy to Mapplethorpe and like a Woody Allen film, a fabulously romantic paean to New York city. Of Mapplethorpe, she seems in awe of his artistic talents, willing him to receive the recognition he deserves. You get the feeling Patti sometimes didn’t realise the huge talent she was steadily nurturing. Reading the book, you can’t help but love her unassuming ways and her shy awkwardness. You want her to do well, and thankfully we know the outcome of her career.

Patti had already left New York some years before Robert Mapplethorpe’s death in 1989. She had married Fred ‘Sonic’ Smith and moved to Detroit, and when her husband died in 1994, Patti was left with two young children to raise.

Quite a few decades later on stage at Oran Mor, she’s comfortable in her own skin and self-assured, there’s a feeling of what-you-see-is-what-you-get, you probably wouldn’t want to cross her but that charming unassuming quality is still there, and the audience are drawn to her like moths to a flame. She laughs and berates herself if she hits, in her mind, a below standard note (it doesn’t happen often and the audience probably wouldn’t have noticed anyway). She’s an odd mix of fierceness and warmth. It makes her endearing and utterly spellbinding.

A self-confessed lover of words and stories, Patti interspersed her set list with little tales and anecdotes. Amusing and funny, she was like an eccentric aunt. Someone who was always a bit exotic, entertaining, always had a good story and someone you loved visiting.

She borrowed a copy of Just Kids from a member of the audience and read a section to a silent and eager crowd who time-traveled back to a new year in New York, and to the magical atmosphere of the city’s brightly flashing neon lights trapped amid a sudden flurry of snow. It was the birth of a bright new shiny decade, the 1970s. And the wide-eyed optimism of the two young struggling artists was palpable. They felt as if they had the world at their feet, although in reality it was probably hunger and not extravagant good times that were keeping the couple awake in the city that never sleeps.

Regaling tales of previous visits to Glasgow, Patti told of her fondness for the Necropolis, and also of visiting one time with her son, but during this tour Glasgow’s famous cemetery eluded her, and she laughed at herself when the audience corrected her – she was searching for the Acropolis instead. “Well you know, Glasgow … Athens, they’re quite alike – no?” she laughed.

Accompanied by musician and vocalist Tony Shanahan, her vocal strength was astonishing and songs like Pissing In The River and Because The Night were delivered with effortless aplomb rising to fever pitch and nearly bringing the roof down.

The gentler but no less effective This Is The Girl was dedicated to Amy Winehouse while Banga was a call-to-arms rousing chant. A delicate rendition of John Lennon’s Beautiful Boy was dedicated to new royal baby George, and to all other babies out there in the world.

Patti Smith and Robert Mapplethorpe

Patti Smith and Robert Mapplethorpe

“We took walks at night. Sometimes we could see Venus above us. It was the shepherd’s star and the star of love. Robert called it our blue star. He practiced forming the t of Robert into a star, signing in blue so that I would remember.”

“On November fourth, Robert turned twenty-one. I gave him a heavy silver ID bracelet I found in a pawnshop on Forty-second Street. I had it engraved with the words Robert Patti blue star. The blue star of our destiny.”

Extract from Just Kids by Patti Smith

(Published by Bloomsbury £8.99


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