Kill the Pain / Nouvelle Vague


Saint Luke’s, Glasgow
February 24th, 2024


Last night I had the pleasure of seeing a gig at Glasgow’s St Luke’s venue to cover the support act instead of the main one. It is a church that like so many others has changed into a concert hall. It was decided in 2012 that the magnificent building needed a new purpose and renovation began in 2015. It’s in an iconic spot in the city with unmistakable red light meeting you at its entrance.

The scene was great looking down from the Gods (so to speak) the room packed and the vibe tremendous. I was there for support act ‘Kill the Pain’ who came on as a duo in sparkling red and blue dresses, and began effortlessly to inject the gig with its tones of outstanding visual and sound marksmanship.

But first I’ll remark a little on the main act who were just as brilliantly effective. Both of these bands were formed in France, Nouvelle Vague (the main act) brought out a covers album way back in 2004 when they came together to agree that it would be a worthwhile endeavour after years as musicians and producers in the music world. Their show last night had come from the specifics of French cinema in the 1960’s and new wave music from the 70’s and 80’s, they have hit a target that wipes the floor in this genre.

But now to the support act this thing called ‘Kill the Pain’. As I’ve said the venue is a handsome version of what used to be a place for religious worship, so that vibe is already powerful, as the lights went dark and the crowd quietened on came the two protagonists for the night to the tune of two humans who took to the stage without nervousness nor fragility but with a confidence that was to heighten throughout the night. They played and danced with each other sharing vocals and swapping instruments, and with total abandon explored a great many styles fitting them into a genre that was to be wonderfully celebrated throughout the evening.

A music of careful spontaneity, with a band who have hit their 20th anniversary and are following Nouvelle through a tour of the UK this year, it’s a very special gig but every inch of it total fun. I’ll mention here to give a sense of the sounds that reverberated into a room where the audience too were as dedicated as the music.

To the ceiling filled with a sound coming from 1960’s French film and musical roots of funky, outlandish and reverberant encumbering sensuality. A gorgeous vocal collaboration that changed and charged the tunes creating divergent, irony inducing fabulousness! and most of all, remarkably, without the barrier of stage and crowd. The fantastic, soothingly smooth music mixed with an amazingly strong French appeal, and unavoidable welcome to taste, construed freedom and loveliness embroiled.

Once again the view from up in the gallery mixed with the sight of the crowd and stage below was emotionally iconic, tremendously intimate, a scene fit for the making of a famous night. In the more than capable hands of musicians in the throes of dance, theatre and vocal masteries but with the intentions of a thing everyone is invited to. A staunch night of music made of love, dancing made of passion and collaborations made of gold.

Daniel Donnelly

Kingfisher


King Tut’s, Glasgow
February 15th, 2024


The aptly titled King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut is a greatly popular music venue half way into town. It’s a venue steeped in rich musical history. The room was packed for a midweek gig, it’s very interesting layout speaks of this history and its musical ascension.

On first were the dulcet tones of Benjamin Steer who played and sang mostly on his own with a couple of backup tracks. His songs were poetic and his lyrics held a lot of emotion, he was well suited to this in his voice and appearance. He is a star in a newer type and style of song writing that mixes protest, with a strong and husky vocal, with love songs that put the lively evening in a soft mood as they whooped.

He played about 40 min set of clearly original music, which is a more than descent segment that mixed Irish with blues with pop versions, so as he left to welcome main act the already lively atmosphere, had seen a great gig.

‘Kingfishr’ are a new group who abandoned menial life to join and form a band. They were young, fun and he howled a little on vocals. A 5 piece scuffle band unafraid to share, and enjoy the room that they were making legendary, the careful blend of instruments and personalities that included a reverberating banjo, 2 guitars, bass and drum.

They rocked through the gig with heavily loud speakers yet played with a great sensitivity, that easily won the crowd over, many or most of whom were fans. Their current recording’s are only in the singles form, but their passions were felt bringing the idea they had of leaving their worlds behind. They are making their way through a large tour, and have every intention to record in the not too far off future, they should because in its revelry this was a highly organised band and they played it very tightly.       

But the biggest vibe they created became communal, they parted the small crowd (Tut’ intimate size) took their place in its centre and sang and played without amplification. The room well understood this and as he sang lines to resemble an extreme human predicament, the room changed and all the phones that were on him lit up this strange and heartrending moment.

For a band so young it was like they were already living the experience and all it takes to be in a band and consciously drive it towards the roads of rock n’ roll success. And so their music stated its many faceted styles not without its appeal that drew the room closer together to really share something. A music that belts forth and puts forth its hardest and softest appeals. We must say well done to these guys as they learn to mount and ride this bull, I can imagine very great progress for this group.  

Daniel Donnelly

Cahalen Morrison


Soundhouse @ Traverse Theatre
15/02/2024


Playing host to Soundhouse Music Events at the Traverse Theatre on a wintery Scottish night was the renowned poetic folk singer-songwriter, Cahalen Morrison. Originally treading the paths in Northern New Mexico, USA, Cahalen has put down roots in Scotland, and now lives in Glasgow where he seems very much at home.

Cahalen has a folk singing background with an endless list of collaboration’s with artists like Hot Rize, Crooked Still and Transatlantic Sessions, and more recently with his folky country rock band “Western Centuries”. Cahalen has also been lucky enough to experience a lot of the UK’s festival scene over the years, such as the “Shetland Folk Festival”, “Celtic Connections” and “Kilkenny Roots Festival.”

Encouraged and injected with deep American country music roots from an early age, Cahalen has adopted a heart felt approach to his music which is delivered with a tranquil execution. Travelling across the expanse of the Atlantic ocean, Cahalen brings with him to Scotland his love of traditional folk- country-rock music in his own unique style.

As the quaint and intimate Traverse Theatre filled up, it wasn’t long until Cahalen’s guest support act took to stage. Cera Impala is a honey-husked singer-songwriter who has graced many a stage throughout out Scotland. I first had the pleasure of Cera Impala’s company at Kelburn Garden Party some years ago, and was gushing to see her supporting Cahalen in her new home town of Edinburgh. Cera treated us to songs such as “Hide & Seek” and “Sunflower”, and with her beautiful distinctive voice delivered a memorable start to the evening.

Received with a warming applause, Cahalen Morrison was about to do his first gig in 18 months, and what an honour it was to be part of it. Here is a musician that is a multi-instrumentalist, and is never happier than when surrounded by a Banjo, Guitar, Fiddle, and Mandolin. Changing instruments to suit his songs, Cahalen threw in a few acapella numbers split the set well. With a voice that would stop a thousand rioters dead in their shoes within a moment of hearing him, Cahalen undeniably has a calming effect on the collective soul when he sings.

Music tells a story, but folk music storytelling tells a different tale. It brings to life forgotten tales of heroism, fatal deeds, storms and tragedies and many a distant echo from times past. That’s what Cahalen has in abundance. My favourite example of this is “Those Mighty Beasts of Holm”, about a ship that meets with a tragic end. Moving through other songs like “Turquoise and Jade”, “Nancy Fancy” and “Little Sachel”, we were engulfed in an evening of relaxation, peace and tranquility.

Tell me a story and I am hooked, but tell it in this fashion and I am fully 100% in. A beautiful evening and a beautiful gig.

Raymond Speedie

Pet Needs


Assai Records Store
February 18th, 2024


It was my first visit to the new Assai Records store, Assai are a nearly decade old recording company that has its roots in Scotland. I was there for a mid afternoon promotion of a band called ‘Pet Needs’, a group who are aiming high and have a brand new album. The Record shop on Sauchiehall Street is a conclave of rock n’ pop on vinyl, but provides to all kinds of music fans, I went straight to heavy metal browsing.

It was an intimate sized space for this performance, a room with about 24 people who awaited in the late afternoon with electric enthusiasm. This was a gig to showcase the formidable talents of this fine young band, who took to their instruments and microphones creating the scene of a lively set of songs of high energy and breaking out with distinctive vocals.

This exciting gig and coming tour are on the back of this new album called ‘Intermittent Fast Living’ a trawling title for them to live up to. Released early this year the incredibly fast moving pace of digital promotion has them proving successful already inspiring a quite remarkable interest. They are potentially ready to take on great rewards by putting their music out there.

I felt an existential aspect from the music and lyrics, ‘The Optimist’ had him sing, rap and growl a little as he leaped around. Replacing electric for acoustic guitar gave the songs a dynamism of a fresh and in kind genre brought together into this rich and varied sense of encompassing a live scene making again the kings of rock.

The crowd where there to tap into this rich reprieve as faithful followers who knew the material to sing along to the textured songs crafted from these punk and rock motifs. From their various recordings it was obvious that these guys play a full game and have a sound remnant with the attitude’s of pure punk while giving rock n’ roll its due.

There was swaying interaction belting from the stage (the floor) in an act ready to gig and rile any size of audience. The contemporary take on modern living, coming from Colchester, they could express their love of music, in touring and recording that have hit the heights. A band very well suited to work and look just right, a band whose breakthroughs are shaping their imminent future before our very eyes.

Pouring just the right amount for themselves and to just the right gusto, in a new scene of opening opportunity to be taken up by talent, a scene emerging at these fronts mastering recordings and offering legendary popularity for skill that can take it. A deep well travelled genre fit to champion this modern funky, somewhat rebellious form of performing. All up to give further rise to music prominent in the hands of bands like these. About the magic of reaching deeply into the roots of their own songs, done their own way with that the spell that is that classic rock n’ roll.

Daniel Donnelly

N’Faly Kouyate


Band On The Wall
Manchester
15/02/24

To witness N’Faly Kouyaté in performance is akin to putting bubble-bath in your hot, celestial jacuzzi, for the experience is pure fluffy cosmic vibrations. His band consists of N’Faly up front, sometimes singing, sometimes singing while playing the stunning-looing kora instrument with clear virtuosity. I mean, he is the actual president of the Festival International de la Kora, so that should show his kudos.

N’Faly, former front man of Afro Celt Sound System, was this time was join’d on stage by a lady & a gentlemen, & together they create something other than music, something special, unique, wonderful. Indeed, he proclaim’d himself to be a bard, which is in essence the custodian of human culture & remembrance, & which is then return’d to his listeners as musical numbers.

In between these songs N’Faly gives us interesting introductions, with the overall effect of being re-introduced into the family of humanity. A ‘Ré-Génération’, perhaps, which just happens to be the name of the new album he is touring, which he describes as ‘a captivating fusion of AfroBeat, AfroTrap, AfroPop, AfroRap & RnB’ - all the Afros, & is at once & the same time cutting edge modernity & as ancient as the first human noises made south of the Zambezi.

To witness N’Faly in the recently refurbish’d ‘Band On The Wall’ in Manchester was nothing but a sheer delight. Their tour here in the UK is coming to a close, but they’re not going too far away - to Brussels in Belgium, in fact - & I just know at some point in the coming future I will avail myself of the opportunity to catch this maestro & his gang of very cool musicians once more.

Damo Beeson Bullen

Feral Family


Nice n’ Sleazy, Glasgow
February 8th, 2024


Things felt good last night as I made my way to Sauchiehall streets Nice n’ Sleazy bar and venue. I had not been there forever as I descended to the basement for a midweek gig by three acts. The layout hadn’t changed much having red light to set the scene of bar to the left and stage straight ahead. I took a seat and scanned the room waiting for the evening’s music to happen.

The venue plays host to a great variety of music but the night was filled with grunge type sounds, it put me back to the 90’s when grunge was the love bug for many young souls ready to mosh to its loud, long haired anti-establishment.

First on the famous stage came a band called ‘Seagulls Birthday’ who played in this style and it felt like there hadn’t been a 20 year gap for this live vibe. It was a pleasure to have my ears tested and my love for this expression of overdrive guitar celebrated. Their set up was spread across the stage, behind the amp, electric and bass guitar booming with the ironic impossibility of following their lyrics, but they shared vocals for different songs.

The room was about a third full but the music magic brought out that way of dancing that was then so popular, head banging and kind of jerking. A band called ‘Blow up dog’ appeared and it wasn’t long before sweat poured out. The singer put so much in from the get go that he could have done with a towel. This young vocalist had figured out to a good extent how best to express himself, clutching the low ceiling and leaving the stage to dance among the crowd.

The loud style of this music seamlessly went together, when I say loud the amps were turned up to eleven on bass and guitar, the drums heaved rapid beats and the vocals were antagonising and also hard to make out lyrically. No matter but we can tell a little from titles of their singles ‘Portrait of an Animal’ and ‘Dive in’ Soundgarden and Nirvana back on stage with the same spirit, young, great, a band in their height and full of confidence.

It was an evening at Sleazy’s for young fresh talent, with strong sounds and a good audience support. Gigs can change depending on where you take them in so being in the small crowd greatly benefited my experience there.

‘Feral Family’, who were the main and last act, had 45 min to make an impression. The four of them threw caution to the wind, kept up the incredible volume of noise which was fun to pry into. The bass just flung the room apart, almost like a motor cycle bike, the clothes and appearance were cool, and the attitude was there.

They are so new that recording their music is something yet to happen. But musically they certainly happened last night. Having worked it out together it was obvious that music was back in the pocket of having great fun. Music for what it is, I particularly enjoyed the good news that what happened in the 90’s still reverberate because for me it was a great and inspirational period that the whole world seemed to be aware of.

Bands that rock through youth perform as grunge and groove with the flavour of punk, happily restless at a gig in this artful venue.

Daniel Donnelly

Hannah Rose Platt


The Caves, Edinburgh
6/02/2024


Hannah Rose Platt is a singer-songwriter with a poetic touch. Brought up, and born in the beautiful city of Liverpool, I can only imagine the musical influences Hannah was caressed with as she took on her career as a musician. Sculpting her lyrical craft with a talented, multi-instrumental chisel, Hannah has captured a unique sound and presence. Releasing her debut album “Portraits” was a milestone, and was received with great enthusiasm by a mixed audience.

Travels to Nashville, collaborations and new material was a constant in the forthcoming years. Hannah’s music explores the light in the darkness, eerie but warming. The thin line between night and day is the thin line between Hannah’s music. To achieve a particular sound that one’s lyrics can adopt as its own is no easy task but Hannah has achieved this tenfold.

Hannah’s ghost story like lyrics provoke a train of thought that encourages one to take a second look at life. At the centre of her music lies a beautiful and profound melancholy and nostalgia in the most wonderful way. Letters Under Floor Boards her second album had a much larger and harder hitting sound than the acoustics of “Portraits” and was again a diversion from her earlier album. Experimenting and trying out new ideas is what “Letters Under The Floorboards” was all about and Hannah nailed it. An album graced with love.

At Edinburgh’s Caves venue, Hannah was supporting act for Chuck Ragan on a chilly Tuesday night. Deep down, I was kind of hoping that Hannah was the headliner, as 30 minutes just didn’t seem to be enough to witness this iconic musician. Like a beautifully coloured butterfly, Hannah took the stage to warm applause from a now warming up crowd.

The Caves is a lovely intimate venue with a rustic old feel to it, and made a good platform for a performer such as Hannah to deliver her storytelling songs. Having such a back catalogue of amazing numbers such as “Feeding Time For Monsters” , “Dead Man On The G Train” , “The Gentleman” and “The Mermaid and the Sailor” it was no doubt difficult to choose a set list.

Easing from one song to the next we got to the magical “1954”, which tugged at the audiences heart strings. The Nick Cave vibe was present, & the Tom Waits influence was clear to see, as the last song was a fitting tribute to him. Hannah has an endearing and pleasant feel about her, and she delivers a memorable set that will surely turn heads for years to come.

A multi-talented artist that loves music more than music loves itself. Feeling warmed and satisfied, the gig ended to a loud and grateful thank you from both artist and crowd. Great show Hannah. All the best for the rest of the tour.

Raymond Speedie

NATI. (FKA Nati Dreddd) & Kirsten Adamson


Celtic Connections, Oran Mor, Glasgow
February 2nd, 2024


Glasgow’s Oran Mor venue, in its basement, was host to a Celtic Connections gig last night by the very electric sounds of one NATI. a singer from Scotland with a remarkable tale to tell with regards to how she became a vocalist song writer. We were first treated to the finely tuned Kirsten Adamson who led her band into the smoothest live set you could imagine.

They were a five piece of double bass, guitars, playing blue grass ragtime songs that they made look easy being also young and full of life. The venue opened up to music self written from their two albums that celebrate the style and have a freedom of lyric capturing the spirit of this festival perfectly and to great accomplishment.

The room had a great energy when NATI. took to stage having a thrilling energy of her own. Her band played keyboard, bass, but the sound was modern mixed with old. She held the room in high esteem, with a breakout confidence that just came totally naturally to her, her voice and the music was on another level. The Connections festival is a great showcase for artists whose music is a way of life, and it always offers its brilliant strain as audiences revel in it.

Celtic Connections | Glasgow

The story of her fantastic journey must have started with her flawless voice, she sang to very varied styles of songs with the beauty each required. She became interested in guitar during lockdown, and wound up trading her music through online platforms that she then broke through to find herself recording “Blossoms” and creating a legend where it sold out in a Glasgow gig. All her fans were there it seemed, all onboard to partake in this remarkable, unique journey thundering through her musical style.

And her charm of very Celtic, American origin fused together to make her and her original writing even more impressive.
The venue was a very rich scene filled to capacity, one big musical party. The Connections festival building up in its last days for the year, celebrating its 30 year mile stone, in the hands of this highly talented musician who surpassed her role in leading the night.

I took a look from the back of the room to see how well things were swinging but when she sang I just closed my eyes in its bliss and beauty, also very lively, filled with brimming energy in a performance not to forget. The night was visually stunning, beaming with a greatly talented youth, who in turn beamed as they played their instruments, passing along groovieness, letting loose the talents the festival so well collects. We could really enjoy her, as it all just came out, her band, the vibe, that was musically able to reach out with bonding hands and expertly cause its fine art of just jiving.

Daniel Donnelly

Motopia


The Bungalow, Paisley
02-02-24


Last night, the good ship Mickey 9s embark’d upon its world tour of Scotland, a great battleship of funk that will be tearing wide-open the everyday merchant shipping lanes of our Caledonian lives. Like any good Atlantic battleship raiding party, they’ll need some destroyer escorts, & so to Motopia, their chief support this voyage. With a classic format of bass, drums, guitar & vocals, the band is a Catatonian, Echobellyesque three blokes & a bird, led by the sparkling Mairead Feighan, whom I first encounter’d at last year’s Eden festival. It was reyt hot, it was my birthday, I was absolutely blooter’d from the previous night, & this is what I had to say;

At 1PM, kicking off the Wee Timorous Stage at the back of Rabbie’s Tavern, I was delighted to witness for my first time the ethereal & uplifting fairy shamanics of Motopia, fronted by an acoustic guitar strumming kneeling lady call’d Mairead Feighan & occasionally join’d by a guitarist & percussionist. It really was an enchanting affair, with lyrics that really mean something – like a give-a-fuck-about-humanity-with-a-hard-dose-of-truth kinda something.

…& so to last night, & the Bungalow venue in Paisley - Scotland’s largest town, & a place I’d never been to after dark. Writing this proves I surviv’d the escapade, but it’s not one for the faint-hearted, believe you me. The town has always loved its music - an appreciation that was ratched reyt up after Glasgow’s city councillors bann’d punk music in the 1970s, leading to open defiance, a 12-minute train ride to Paisley, & some proper gigs at the old skool Bungalow (it has moved in recent years), where perform’d The Clash, The Buzzcocks, Siouxie and the Banshees & The Skids. Reyt bands, reyt voices, reyt vibes!

The new Bungalow is a cool venue on this strip of clubs - I bet its mental in summer, a spacious enough place with a biggish screen showing the live action on the stage. I was only there to see Motopia, & last night, as I was watching Mairead weave her punkishly politiz’d, industro-sermon magic, I was getting some proper Mark E. Smith in the room, while the awe-struck spirits of The Fall were crawling up & down the walls like curious zombie ghouls, going ,who the fuck’s this chick?

Miraed is a newcomer to the scene - her second ever gig was only a year ago, & in the very same venue, a terrifying experience which she delighted in telling us about in one of the chirpy banter-balloon interludes between every song, most of which involv’d her admiring a punter’s fancy boots & wondering what shop she got ’em from. Then she’d introduce the next tune with some expression of truth, such as “this is where we find our power, find who the fuck we are,” or “this next song, in a roundabout way, says fuck the Tories!”

From the folkiness of Eden Festival, to last night’s mini-triumph, Motopia’s trajectory seems akin to that of the rapid aeronautical evolution between the gangly efforts of the Wright Brothers daddy longlegs flying machines, to the sleek & superb Supermarine Spitfires downing Goering’s finest over the docklands of the Clyde. I could hear future anthems breaking out; hooky melodies fused to the music by snippets of forceful lyricism. Her boys are cool too - solid riffs, solid beats, solid back-up -, noting too fancy, but with many a fancy flourish, indicating well-thought song-crafters were grafting behind the scenes.

I was also digging the way that with every song, the connection between band & audience warm’d & swell’d in kundalini fashion, like a storm slowly growing in a harbour, with applause growing exponentially. Then, I swear down, I started bopping about & shit, & it was all cool as fuck! We were all fans of Motopia, & Mairead’s Indian hand dancing by the end, & I left the venue reyt optimistic for 2024, the Year of the Dragon, the year of the artist’s roar! Yes, I’m really glad I brav’d Paisley to see Motopia on the verge of what could well be their break-thro’ year.

Words: Damo Beeson Bullen
Photography: Zewen Lai


Sam Amidon with Allison De Groot & Tatiana Hargreaves


Celtic Connections,
Mackintosh church, Glasgow
January 29th, 2024


The Charles Rennie Mackintosh church is every year a proud venue for the Celtic Connections. Beings its 30th year it has rolled out with the success it has brought since its beginning all those years ago. So the very stylish building was host for the evening to two bright and accomplished performances. First was Allison De Groot & Tatiana Hargreaves from the US who had travelled here to combine for the first time.

With De Groot on banjo and Hargreaves on fiddle they soon picked up that pace of style in the Celtic and bluegrass sound. The partnership was a powerful one in the raised ceilinged room and typical Macintosh architectural flourishes. Fast and passionately they raced through songs self composed and found fresh ways to outtake for the ancient style.

Then we were in the hands of headliner musician Sam Amidon who performed solo. He is proficient on guitar, fiddle and banjo, choosing each for his songs. He has a voice strong, soft and very impressive. He has upcoming gigs working with many artists and producers.

He sang with a big flourish of his own, reaching into the large room with techniques enjoyed by all and made a fluster of longing there for both something old and something new, singing also about his own thinking through storytelling unafraid to speak of a truth. And it’s with truth the evening resounded, all made possible by, the talents of musicians who make light of energetic work.

Coming also from the US the Blue grass element was very alive through the whole evening. It’s of an energy very distinctive, very enthralling and foot tappingly engaging. We can know what is said without words and vocals but combining them together makes for a whole different thing.

Celtic Connections | Glasgow

He had an innovating part in the movements of modern music, a kind that is to bring fresh ideas into the purposes of bringing it to stage. And for the evenings three performers life is good with festivals and gigs happening all over the place. And of course both are hardened travellers giving themselves plenty to write about. The writing blew us away in a way that was more than achieving set goals, instead carrying for them to rise, in fascinating ways, seeing how the different characters responded in very different ways.

It felt great that one man could draw in the room with a topicality towards style and an outspoken hint certainly graced things. It was easy listening mixed with howling blues for this solitary figure who as I say was as loud and big as an orchestra. Grinding bravado was behind his beautifully soulful, solitary stance breaching and reaching heaven, for with his presence he had a thing going on.

I suppose it could have been a novel thing to play like this, alone, for a large Connections gig but he very soon, and Allison and Tatiana, found a very great quality going far beyond that stoicism, sharing the music that is gold, silver and definitely iron. Loved the frantic moments, the sealed passion between then, and the proud gut wrenching glory that pours through so many hands to find itself in a room playing drastically good music, we left pleasantly alert.

Daniel Donnelly