RCS Symphonia

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Stevenson Hall, Glasgow
16-11-17


Why write about a concert which has already happened? Play, literature or film reviews might help you to choose whether to buy a book, or attend a performance. But concerts are usually one-offs, so recommendations are surely less important than impressions. Here are some thoughts, then, on the inaugural performance of the RCS Symphonia, when Bach’s Suite in D No. 3 and Richard Strauss’ Metamorphosen were performed in Stevenson Hall.

I wasn’t expecting to find the Bach so engaging and enjoyable but it really was light, tasty and fizzy, with David Watkin constantly adding air into the mix and encouraging thought and direction into the positioning of each next entry. The famous Air (Hamlet cigars) showed off how special long notes can be if they are given the salt of direction rather than the sugar of vibrato, indeed the whole work showed off a wonderful silvery tone, without any vibrato at all being used. Though there was a wonderful sense of dance throughout, and no doubt because of that, I particularly enjoyed the final chords of each movement which were level and true as horizons at sea.

Metamorphosen for 23 solo strings could not have been more different. It was written in 1945 when the war Germany started had destroyed most of what Strauss must have held dear. The plangent late romantic string sound of the work is so beautiful, I’m tempted to say I could listen to it all day, but in fact I was ready for it to end when it did. The live experience was marvelous, however, and such was the richness of the musical texture that it was good being able to watch as well as to listen.

There was a casual vibe in the hall, mostly filled with students and staff from RCS, and it was a short concert at a time of night when neither work nor transport should be an issue. So, to contradict my first point, if you see the next one being advertised – keep the date free and go along!

Reviewer : Catherine Eunson

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Lulu

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Perth Concert Hall
16-11-17


An entertaining night from one of the most enduring icons of the pop music decades. It’s only when Lulu stands next to someone on stage that her diminutive size becomes apparent. Otherwise, Lulu has a HUGE presence to match an equally charismatic voice. Accompanied by an excellent four-piece band, she gave a performance of real distinction that crackled with energy from the start.

Lulu strode onstage to warm applause, dressed in all-black, with a black hat and dark shades, like a blues sister. Indeed, her performance was infused with a soul-filled R’n’B vibe throughout. From the opening tribute to her close friend Bowie with “The Man who Sold the World” to a scintillating, bluesy “Oh Me Oh My (I’m a Fool for You Baby)” from her 1970 Muscle Shoals Studio’s release “New Routes,” Lulu let her blue-eyed soul roots show – a unique and powerful voice that hasn’t diminished one bit over the years.

Sharing stories of a career spanning six decades, Lulu had some real rapport with her audience between well-remembered hits like the James Bond theme to “The Man with the Golden Gun”, “I Don’t Want to Fight” (a hit for Tina Turner, but penned by Lulu following her divorce from Maurice Gibb of the Bee Gees) and “To Sir with Love”. These classics were given a soulful treatment that suits Lulu’s delivery well. “Relight my Fire”, a number one hit with Take That, had the audience up on their feet as Lulu playfully teased a cheeky dance out of them.

The band gave a powerful performance of the Tom Petty and Stevie Nicks classic “Stop Dragging my Heart Around”, which, like the original, smouldered with R&B sensuality. Lulu’s band are a talented ensemble, they play tight and rock loud! Of course, no Lulu concert would be complete without “Shout!”, the hit that catapulted the fifteen-year-old Scots girl to fame. The audience went wild in the aisles for it.

Called for encore, Lulu was joined by superb support act Chloe Reynolds to give a spine-tingling rendition of “Amazing Grace”. Once again, Lulu’s soulful voice gave the familiar song a gospel choir edge. The audience, a surprising mix of ages, showed Lulu and band a well-deserved appreciation for an outstanding show. Get along to see her perform, and you’ll be guaranteed a thrilling night that really is “all about the music”.

Reviewer : Mark Mackenzie

Matthias Pintscher (SSO)

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Glasgow City Halls
11th November


This is a concert review, but imagine for a moment you’re looking into a wood through a window. Step outside into the trees and you’re in a world of sound; of snaps and creaks, rushing leaves, and from near and far the conversation of birds. Last night’s vivid Hear and Now: Matthias Pintscher conducts concert with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra was definitely an ‘outside in the forest’ experience, partly thanks to the City Halls’ fabulous acoustics, but mainly due to the compositions and their excellent re-creation by Pintscher and the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra. The ecosystem of orchestral colour throughout was fabulous, with percussion spotters in particular being richly rewarded.

In Siddartha by Claude Vivier the orchestra was divided into groups with physical distance enabling instruments of the same type to dialogue across the stage with each other, or unison duets (e.g. between the piano and clarinet) to fascinate. The programme was also jam packed with stories behind the sounds, the most famous of which was The Emperor and the Nightingale on which Stravinsky based Le Chant de Rossignol. Here I have to confess I lost the narrative plot, and was surprised by the quiet ending, having allowed myself to succumb to first becoming distracted and then intrigued by small extraneous sounds. Paper programmes make a noise when you turn pages… However there was something else – a wooden sound, was it someone’s seat? No, I reckon the back of the conductor’s podium creaked quite often, when the big man shifted his weight about. Which of course he did with the awareness of a dancer, and great charisma. But to get back to Vivier – what a piece! It shows off the sounds of the orchestra so well and is full of dynamic contrast, splashes of sounds growing in intensity before being silenced to a thud. Surely a worthy replacement for some of the tired but trusted works away from which programmers dare not stray too far?

The most contemporary piece of the night was Im Nebel (2013), a trumpet concerto by Hosio Toshekawa, one of Japan’s foremost composers who was born in Hiroshima in 1955. And it felt contemporary, the fog (nebel) of the Herman Hesse poem feeling akin to the enveloping contemporary angst of our information-overloaded times which held the trumpet in its thrall for some time, before the soloist finally managed to take some tentative, and beautiful, steps alone.

I could go on, there was just so much in this totally free, top quality concert. If you missed it, it was being recorded for broadcast by BBC radio 3. But to hear the true sounds of the orchestra in its native habitat you must come to the concert hall. The sound of the quickly articulated tubular bells sending harmonics bouncing off and above the busy brass and strings was only one of the thrilling highlights of this wonderful concert. And I haven’t even mentioned the sonorous tug and push of Takemitsu’s Twill by Twilight.

Reviewer : Catherine Euonson

Annual Masked Ball : 10th Anniversary

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Secret Castle Location
Northumberland
3rd-5th November 2017


MARK ‘DIVINE’ CALVERT’S REPORT

The Full Moon in Taurus provided a most conducive cosmic loveliness to the Gothic splendour, the calling had been sent out and the Bohemian Wizards had heard that call. from far and wide they came to bring their exotic creativity to the castle Of Dreams. Performance Art found its outlet as the muse was shining as brightly as the Taurus Moon above. With such attractive hosts and guests, the aesthetic of such an amazing party was everything, complemented by such a lush setting in the rolling green, most welcoming and kind environment, the kind of place that instills stillness. far from the maddening crowd as the trials of life dissolve into irrelevance and having a Good Time became infectious.

Indeed having partied in this wonderful castle many times before, this years ball was perfected with a whole heart and having unlocked the pleasure secrets of this most amazing venue in years past, I knew the Good Time Grooove was going to be Groovier. Dinner was served at 8pm, a most delicious fare of Lasagne, both meat and vegetarian options were on offer with yummy vegetables too. the dining room was full of smiles and satisfied warm bellies. Nin Jah TurtlePaul Wilson, Hanna Rose and your team. of culinary Wizards. that was delicious award-winning fuel for this celebration.

23244017_10155950329727743_2341092057728152054_n.jpgAnd with such a dazzling array of talent in The Ball Room alone, Hosted by the spectacular Colonel Mustard Bling pin and security worrying acrobat Djon Dancer, David Blair..Tinky Disco opened proceedings, bringing their tried and tested Rock N Roll brilliance to the mix, fronted by Groove Armadas vocal presence, Mike D. This band of Edinburgh locals began the ball with unprecedented style. Yep, the Dance was on.firing through with fan favourites. Poppadom, Grandad (We Love you) and many more funky gems. The Castle was bouncing.

To bring the excitement levels up just a touch more. The Sisters Nicky D’arc and Jo D’arc who together form the Drum And Bass post punk hybrid “The Twistettes” fresh and fired up from a very successful Summer Season of live shows in the UK and South Korea. The Twistettes delivered a blinding set that had the packed room pogoing in unison. With Jo D’arcs Bass Guitar being the most famous guitar in Scottish history, to see them both reunited brought the smile factor up that bit more. Indeed the party was going off.

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Meanwhile, in the Blue Room our host Roo Cunningham and his sound production finesse “C Note Sounds Was rocking the room with his Dub Reggae DJ Skills. The fire was roaring as Ali Mudie and Megs took to the decks with Disco Grace and funky anthems. Divine just wanted to be everywhere at the same time, it was so so so exciting. Dance, Dance, Dance. Then back to the Ballroom for the Pyrocatz Zombie Can Can. The Pyrocatz are a troupe of creative ladies who have been wowwing festival audiences for ten years or more and comprise of Maria Bo Bosu, Nita Wings, Mel TigerKat, Bee B Love, Lee, Colleen Deehan the much anticipated performance blew everyone away, it was burlesquely sexy adding even more fuel to a night of Hot delight.

I hit the decks in The Blue Lagoon at 11.30pm to discover that one of the CDJ’s was nae working now that was a challenge. Luckily I had a pre-recorded mix with me and I managed to pull it off, however what I had planned was nae possible.I knew I had a set on the Saturday avo so managed to keep smiling. The decks didnae arrive until 11pm so it gave me ample time to get down with Tinky Disco and The Twistettes.

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I finished my set at 1am and was totally knackered. I made for the comfy couch by the fire and ZZZZZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzz. Had a few hours sleep and then bounced back, Had a good natter with Shady Vanman and took to the couch in The Grand Ballroom I was joined by various revellers and we shared poetry and reefers, It was totally Bohemian. I had three performances that afternoon and the Sun was just coming up, its warm rays cascading through the bay windows of the castle. The love within everyones hearts was glowing.Breakfast was only a room away.

Ellie Bishop opened the days proceedings with a beautiful voice and classical guitar playing which suitibly shook off the cobwebs and set the tone for another days entertainment in paradise. Ellie’s perfect interpretation of Pink Floyds Wish You Were Here, almost had me in tears, Ellie is going to be massive.

My first percussion performance of the day was with Dave Boyce on Tennor Saxaphone and his pal on lead vocals and guitar. We played well together performing contemporary classics in the Sunny Ballroom. Lunch was served, another round of delicious Lasagne to further warm our appreciative belly’s. Then it was back on stage to recite a selection of poems from my cannon.

Eden

Why Ponder Thus The Future to Forsee.
To Jade Thy Brain To vain Perplexity.
Cast Off Thy care.
And Leave Gods Plans To Him.
He Formed Them All Without Consulting Thee.

And Edens Grace It draws Me.
Along The Paths Of Inspired Creativity
Lilleths Calling
The Forbidden Fruit.
To feast
To Devour
To Ingest.
Just heresay

To Tempt The Muse With Romantic Tales.
That Invoke Cupids Bow
And the Arrows That He Fires.
Snared Once.
Snared Twice
Snared Thrice.

Powerless I Am rendered
To The Beauty
That Free’s Me From This Chastity
Slavery To The Charms
Held In Natures Arms.
Eden My Bride Awaits Me.

Pans Truth Rewards The Spirit Within
Stirring The Ancient Wisdom.
Spells That Cast Out What No longer serve
And Yes Love Is That Truth
The Only Reward
The remedy
The Key.

Interwoven Diamond Webs
Healing Souls Quest
The RemedyThat Is Now.
And Edens Grace.
Yes!
And Love Rivers Flow Through The Past!
And Love Rivers Flow Through The Future!
And The Moment Becomes.
A Miracle.
A Miracle Called Love!

Divinexx

After Poetry It was time for The Divine Djembe rhythms, I was Joined again by David Boyce on Saxophone and we took everyone on a beautiful musical Journey. Then it was back to The Blue Lagoon to DJ my tunes for my afternoon set this time things went according to plan as Bowie and Prince joined the party.

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Dj Vyper, followed me with his appreciation of Rock N Roll, bopping in the late afternoon Sun. We had such fun. Bob Todd followed with a very entertaining selection, brought to us from his vast knowledge of Music. Indeed The oldies had the decks for the afternoon and evening.Good time! It was a busy day my last memory of the night was Richard Buck aka Lsd-Licious’s Dj set. Which was skillfully, entertaining and a delight to watch.

Then it was time for Dinner, a yummy stew with assorted veggies followed by apple crumble. Nom Nom. I hit a wall of exhaustion after Dinner and was whisked away by David Boyce to his mobile home in the perfect stillness of The Castle grounds. I was out like a light for a three hour power sleep. I awoke at about 1,30am revitalized and tripping my nut off on the mushrooms that I had ingested earlier. Good Time. I had a Pint of coffee infused with Kaluah, caught Disco Shiva’s closing party DJ set, dancing myself dizzy in the process and headed for the Dungeon were Jonathan Carson was weaving Psi Melodies to his enthusiastic audience. At 5am the party was over, but what a party it had been. To think I was kind of in the mind that it was The Castle Party or Paying my Council Tax on the Friday before. In the end I only spent £25 all weekend so was able to pay my Council Tax today, heading off the Sherif for another month while still having the best time possible with lots of my lovely friends. Aye This Years Castle Party Was a Winner on So Many Levels. Fantastic Stuff.


DAVID BLAIR’S REPORT

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Annual Masked Ball; you were beautiful! A massive castle (like a labyrinthine maze inside), set in stunning natural surroundings in Englandshire (less than two hours drive from Glasgow), a full Moon on Saturday, an outstanding line-up of music, textbook organisation, partying with some of the soundest brothers and sisters on this dear planet, beautiful food served, a wide selection of tea, coffee and chai to ease us into Saturday morning; all guaranteed an epic weekend of fun and one of the best parties I’ve ever had the pleasure to attend! Like Eden Festival, but in a castle!

I was co-compèring The Grand Ballroom with Stephen Scott. Thank you to Stephen and Phil Plunkett from the barnstorming Have Mercy Las Vegas for the invite. Sorry you couldn’t make it Phil and I hope you’re feeling better.

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We drove down with Jo D’arc, Esteban Gallus and Gaz Columba (from the mightily impressive Steel Valley Saints “outlaw skiffle from North Lanarkshire”). The banter was flowing but Esteban and Gaz saved their best and funniest banter for their two sets! Legendary ha! Love you brothers!

We arrived to get changed into our finest attire and masks for the ball and in time for Tinky Disco to open The Grand Ballroom stage with their funky and groovy set. Great to catch up with you Damo and Emily and I think that’s my favourite set I’ve ever watched you play. Looking forward to the video!

Jo and Nicky D’arc from The Twistettes were up next to deliver their high octane punk perfection. Who is the mystery “third Twistette” in the picture below that joined you onstage?! The Grand Ballroomers were loving it and it was great to see Sally showing her sisterhood support and wearing The Twistettes t-shirt.

There was so much amazing music going down in The Grand Ballroom, The Blue Lagoon and The Dungeon it was difficult to choose where to be at times. My disco cap is doffed to all the artists who played, the sound sound guys and sound systems.

Over and above the aforementioned, the highlights for me (that I can remember) were getting to know so many friends (old and new better), Sally/The Dirty Claptrap’s two sets (beautiful singing and guitaring), Hugh Kearns Music acoustic set, Mark Calvert AKA Devine (DJing, poetry and firestarting and tending of the highest order – castles in November can be f-f-f-freezing!), Ellie Bishop’s set (again, beautiful guitaring and singing and thank you for letting me join you at the end for our cover of Pink Floyd’s ‘Wish You Were Here’), Yoko Pwno (Underworld meets techno at a ceilidh – getting better with every gig), Stig of the Dub (“a 7 piece live band, fusing classic reggae, dub, ska, dancehall, breaks, and world music, creating a musical hybrid style you can’t help but dance to!”), George Campbell’s old school rock ‘n’ roll DJ set (The Beach Boys ‘Good Vibrations’ hit the spot!), Owen Auskerry’s MetraGnome DJ set and Pedro Pocus and Sean Marcucci Moore’s DISKO SHIVA DJ set knocked it right out the park!

Disko Shiva are playing again with Colonel Mustard & The Dijon 5 at our next gig (and only one this month) in Kirkpatrick Durham Village Hall on Saturday 25th November at Kim Kirk Events: https://www.facebook.com/events/1890816167610391/ (poster below). We would love to see all you friendly Dumfries & Gallowayer faces again at it! If you’re from Glasgow (or surrounding areas), we’re putting on a free return bus leaving from Glasgow for it.

MASSIVE thanks to everyone for organising and playing their part in such an EPIC weekend and I cannae wait for the 11th Eden Annual Masked Ball on Friday 9th to Sunday 11th November 2018! It’s in the filofax already! You DO NOT want to miss it!

Apologies to those who I knew there but didn’t get a chance to chat and hang out with. It is a big castle! If our Paths did not cross, twas not meant to be this time. Even if they did, when my mind is, ahem, “elsewhere” I do forget a LOT of things. Including people I actually know and sometimes even the ability to talk! The latter some folk might say is not a bad thing sometimes ha! When I awoke on Sunday morning after my first 6-8 hours of sleep of the weekend I started singing this Pixies song..

Quote of the weekend, “This isn’t (Alf Ramsay’s Porn) Dungeon!” Niche Alan Partridge The Day Today “at the races” reference there:

Thank you for being a friend. Peace, love and Eden Masked Balls

St Petersburg Symphony Orchestra

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Perth Concert Halls
26th October 2017


Out of St Petersburg, the darling city of Russia’s love of arts, comes a stylish symphony orchestra that last night toured its way into Perth’s ever magnificent concert halls. The acoustics especially in Perth magnify such moments, transmelding the music into manna for the ears, & thus the soul. For me, Russian symphonic music tends to consist of individual phrases which will then get caught up by the leviathan of the whole of the entire orchestra – rather like the collection of Soviets that make up Russia itself. As for our guests, the Saint Petersburg orchestra played on throughout the 90-day siege of the city (as Leningrad) during WW2. Fortified to their very fibres, they were an institution worth driving a hundred miles to see.

A full house was presented with three Russian compositions – two Tchaikovskys & a Rachmaninov – music created by Russians, played by Russians & appreciated by the world. The first was Tchaikovsky’s sonata-poem & masterpiece, the Fantasy Overture of Romeo & Juliet, which shows how the living energy of poetry may bound beyond its formal literary restrictions & create the phantasia, the mental images, just well. Composed midway between Borodino & the Oktober Revolution, it reflects the high tide of Tsarist culture. Inspired by Balakirev’s King Lear, it contains an exquisite paean to love, like a lady’s dress willowing through a sunlit glade, whose dramatic reprise near the end may quake open even the stoniest of tear-wells. Conducted by Alan Buribayev, & played by the dapper-dressed, the 20 minutes flew by in a stanzaic procession of music images, in which the essence of Shakespeare’s characters & dramatic message were relayed.

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Next came Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto 4 (in G Minor), played by a white-haired, slightly inelegantly-postured Mancunian, Peter Donohoe. Looking a little awkward in his tails, as soon as he sat down & began to play the piece, I knew I was in the presence of a bohemian maestro. Take away the orchestra, dim the lights, add an empty & a half-full bottle of vodka, a gently smoking cigar, & I was transported into the musical sanctuary of this superb musician. As Donohoe surfed the lucid fluidity & swaggering confidence of Rachmaninov’s orchestral design, I gazed on his twinkling, glittering fingerwork, & the overall sound effect seemed rather like stars against a satin sky. Slated after its 1927 premier with the Philadelphia Orchestra, Rachmaninov revised the score to create a now beloved piece.

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After the interval, Alan Buribayev returned to conduct Tchaikovsky’s ‘Pathetique,’ a less brilliant affair than his Romeo & Juliet, but one brimful with heart-warming moments of pathos. It was to be the composer’s final creation, indeed he died just weeks after its premier, & it seems almost like we are watching Tchaikovsky’s entire life in music flash before his eyes. Starting out teasing & playful, like a boy cherub at the feet of his parents, there soon  follows a triumphant piece hectic with eclecticism, like the waking of a dragon protecting its treasures, the music grows tenser until, towards the end, as the music lifts into a kettledrum quivering, footstomping swirl of strings, I began to obsessively watch Buribayev’s feet as they danced & darted about the rostrum as if he was Northern Souling it down the Wigan Casino. He is only in his late 30s, & is a true talent; a really energetic individual that infuses the performance with his giddying enthusiasm.

After the finale, our rapturous applause eked out two short encores – Bach & Brahms – which tends not to happen so much with British orchestras. The Russians are clearly an extremely cultured people, as increasingly are the very lucky residents of Perthshire, into which region is poured a constant medley of the arts. And long may it continue.

Reviewer : Damian Beeson Bullen

Lost Map: Strange Invitation

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Pictish Trail


Spree Festival, Paisley Arts Centre – 22 October 2017


Formed from the ashes of the disbanded Fence Collective label in 2013 by the sensational Johnny Lynch aka Pictish Trail, this Strange Invitation event was a gathering of artists from the Lost Map roster. Just as last Sunday’s gig at the Paisley Arts Centre featuring Emma Pollock and RM Hubbert paid homage to the legendary Chemikal Underground label from Glasgow, ‘Strange Invitation’ was an opportunity to gloat about the treasure trove of artists signed to the independent record label, delivering stripped back performances spread across a Sunday afternoon into the evening.

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A sparse crowd at the start were welcomed by the Pictish Trail, goading them to “enjoy the beautiful, miserable songs” that the label has to offer. First on stage, and five years into his solo career since departing psychedelic-dub pop band Brothers In Sound, Ed Dowie travelled to Paisley from London to perform songs from his debut album ‘The Uncle Sold’. Bathed in a pink light, Dowie’s hymns were a soft numbing of the senses using a keyboard, a laptop, foot pedal and backing tracks to lift and lower each song. Experimental snippets such as “Alive” from ‘The Adjustable Arm’ EP sat comfortably with newer compositions such as “Why Do You Live In France?”, with only Dowie’s anxious floundering between songs breaking the intimate and romantic spell which his songs conjure.

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Becoming the latest Scottish band to display affection for our four-legged friends (Hair Of The Dog, Dogs Die In Hot Cars, etc) four-piece Good Dog, fronted by Tuff Love/Pictish Trail multi-instrumentalist Suse Bear presented a slightly different key change. Fresh from recently delving into an electronic and synthesiser-fuelled collaboration with Errors’ Steev Livingstone, Bear’s new project debuted at the Spree Festival. The problem and the delight about entirely new bands is a mystique about what songs are about or what titles they possess, but with a voice akin to Sinead O’Connor at her most fertile and carefully-crafted sunlight-pop tunes, the band will do well. Light, haunting tracks and a peculiarly-amiable demeanour between band members Cammy on bass and Iain on drums made this an intriguing and humble first outing. “I’m used to playing bass but these extra two strings are giving me bother”, joked Bear. It honestly never showed. Check the link below for more on this outfit.

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Kid Canaveral have incredibly been around for a dozen years now, first performing in a supporting role for King Creosote and tonight’s curator, the Pictish Trail. Tonight, frontman David MacGregor was on hand to deliver a solo, acoustic set exhibiting the alt-pop sounds which have earned the band such plaudits. Announcing himself as “one-fifth of Kid Canaveral”, MacGregor’s soaring vocals are clean and uplifting, accompanied by short, sharp finger-picking on songs such as the fabulous “First We Take Dumbarton”. Joking between songs about being “full of snotters” or “being unable to read (his) useless new Headstock tuner”, MacGregor drilled through songs from 2010’s debut record ‘Shouting At Wildlife” to anthemic “Pale White Flower” from last year’s ‘Faulty Inner Dialogue’ record without fault. Split between heartbreak and yearning, everything spills out in the spectacular volume of his delivery, barely shifting feet and channelling all energy through neck muscles. “How quickly the light drains out of me”, MacGregor sings on second record gem “Low Winter Sun”, before exiting to a much-swelled audience brimming with applause.

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Alabaster dePlume

New label signing Alabaster dePlume (aka Angus Fairburn) was joined on stage by Ed Dowie once more (Earlier in the evening, dePlume had accompanied Dowie on saxophone during one number), and Ursula Russell on drums. This was undeniably the star turn and strangest act on the bill as DePlume’s peculiar and whimsical spoken word cranked up the ‘Strange Invitation’ event title to 11. “I wanted to impress you so I brought my bling”, dePlume quips before lifting a saxophone to his lips and delivering a stirring, synth-soaked sparkler partnered by meditative Indian psalms to Gregorian monk chanting. Performance poem “Be Nice To People” is executed theatrically and expertly, while at the end of each poem/song, greeted with a smile, air fist-pump and a wiggle of his skinny hips. “I fucking love doing this, if you haven’t already gathered that”, he exclaims. The beautiful harmonies and melodies on the song “They Put The Stars So Far Away” is a magical addition to the set, with only Dowie on keys seemingly unable to conceal his fatigue from travelling so far north. This won’t be one for everyone, but dePlume’s style of jazz and wordplay is something very different and watchable to anything else around.

 

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Post-interval break it was the turn of Glaswegian-based indie outfit Savage Mansion. Led by Craig Angus, spotted dancing to the side of the stage to Talking Heads just prior to their set, the energy of this four-piece enabled them to drive through 9 songs during their half hour set. The briskness of “Trouble In Paradise” slowed down with the pop-edged “Do You Say Hello To Your Neighbours?”, the band’s most recent single. Andrew McPherson cuts an impressive figure on second guitar, flanked by an equally groove-tinged Jamie Dubber on bass, and it was a slightly peculiar sight that the lead singer was arguably the most nervous on show. Gradually, older numbers such as “Elwood” found Angus in his comfort zone, albeit visibly still mildly skittish talking between songs, before finally blustering on a cover of Tom Petty’s “American Girl”. Swagger intact, Angus lifted his guitar over his head and left the stage to a ripple of feedback. There was enough to see that this was a good band with streaks of promising rhythm but are still seeking the sound which defines them.

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Serafina Steer

“The Moths Are Real” is the latest album of work created by English harpist Serafina Steer, produced by Pulp’s Jarvis Cocker. In an interview which appeared in The Guardian in 2013, Steer remarked “The harp is a lonely instrument. You’re in the spotlight, and generally playing on your own”. Tonight, Steer opts to use keyboards and synth to tell her storie. Shoes off and laid to one side, Steer cut a clement figure on stage, allowing warm, churchly organs to loop and cascade during songs such as “Island Odyssey”. Off-kilter vocals and lyrics walked a tightrope between being evocative and clumsy, with piano ballads that would richly benefit from having a band surround Steer. It becomes apparent that when longer notes are held, Steer is at her strongest as demonstrated on “Uncomfortable” from her ‘Cheap Demo Bad Science’ album ten years ago. “Disco Compilation” should be a powerful arm-twister in convincing listeners that Steer is worth sticking with, but a painful mash of wrong keys, incorrect pitch, teeth sucking and head shaking leads to some sighing in the audience. On record, her music will work but the stop-start, rickety process begins to grate and old-favourite “Curses, Curses” is perhaps the most apt summing up of this set.

 

Headliner and host of the evening is Pictish Trail. All glittered-up and adorning pink outfits, the five-piece consists of violin, keyboards, two guitars and drums, producing a lush groove which instantaneously washes over the crowd. Anyone who has seen Johnny Lynch live before will know that his light-hearted approach to music can only be undertaken due to his uncanny knack of churning out well-crafted pop songs and reputable musicianship. Having flown from Cologne where he is supporting friend KT Tunstall on tour, Lynch’s dedication to music is admirable and, accompanied by Suse Bear on guitar and keys, freely banters with the crowd during songs such as “Dead Connection”. ‘Cheer, like you’ve won a special prize’, he coaxes with his Bullseye-endorsement. Old favourites such as “Winter Home Disco” from 2008 continue to lift spirits (and arses from seats) while last year’s “After Life” from the ‘Future Echoes’ record is a positively disco-splurging, bombastic climax to this six-hour long ‘gig’.

With thanks given to all bands, artists, and DJ Bartholomew Owl for providing killer tracks between sets (and some outrageously fun theme tunes from yesteryear too), it was time to bid farewell to each of Lynch’s labelmates, and return to Germany. There had been plenty of positives and promising moments during tonight’s showcase, and despite the occasional questionability in confidence demonstrated by some of the artists, there was enough to suggest that this label is one with a keen eye trained to unearth diamonds in the coal. Lost Maps = new-found worlds.

 

Reviewer : Stephen Watt

Frightened Rabbit with RSNO

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Spree Festival, Paisley Abbey
17th October


Standing in pride of place in the town centre is the impressive 850-year-old Paisley Abbey – an awesome venue promising a memorable evening, part of Paisley’s The Spree for All Festival (@SpreeFestival). As I joined the queue 20 minutes before doors open, the chat was welcoming and full of friendly greetings. The historic setting and inspiring architecture were rewarded with a fully sold out show and we took our (very comfortable) seats with a great sense of anticipation. The house announcer spoke with enthusiasm about the Festival, as well as the rich heritage of Paisley and its Abbey (@Paisley 2021).

First up was Irish musician Wallis Bird who gave a gutsy performance in the style of Irish traditional music and folk tales; songs full of love and ideas of revelation and intimacy. Her voice rose to reach the vaulted ceiling, filling the hall with a lovely assemblage of melodies. Hitting the body of her guitar to give a deep booming bass accompaniment, she sang “Don’t you know what we stand to lose?” and then in her pure vocals, lyrics and music she exclaims in a beautifully soulful way “I get screwed but I’m not complaining.” Then later a speedy number; “Oh life I love you to my bones”. Bird took command of the stage right from the start and set the evening off on a high note.

The lights dimmed and an expectant silence filled the air, followed by a little introduction and as the members of the orchestra gathered and began to tune up, gradually swelling in volume until it reached the moment of readiness when the music would begin. Then all attention turned to the conductor, John Logan. He it was who was largely responsible for the evening’s one-off collaboration with the acclaimed indie rock band, Frightened Rabbit. Logan’s idea was to write an orchestral score that would accompany Frightened Rabbit’s own songs – well known to the fans whose presence lent the evening an extra air of excitement in their enthusiasm for the music.

It was clear from the start that this was to be a collaboration between two mighty musical entourages. On the one hand the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, on the other the 5-piece ensemble known as Frightened Rabbit, whose current lineup consists of Scott Hutchison (vocals, guitar and principal song writer), Grant Hutchison (drums), Billy Kennedy (guitar, bass), Andy Monaghan (guitar, keyboards), and Simon Liddell (guitar). Each song resonated powerfully as it built up to a climax between the orchestra and the band, the sound dramatically emphasised when the walls and ceiling were lit up in red, white and blue. Somehow the drama lent strength to the lyrics rather than overpowering them. It was as if torrents of Frightened Rabbit’s Indie rock music penetrated into the very walls of the great hall itself.

There was an obvious strong bond between the band and their fans, evident in the reactions of the band themselves and in the waves of recognition as familiar and well-loved numbers were performed, some with and some without the orchestra, such as ‘Poke’ and ‘Good Arms vs Bad Arms’. When they performed the song ‘Floating in the Forth’ on their own, it felt like a rather dark affair of being lost in the water, only for the music to be drowned by the return of the orchestra led by Logan. This moment generated a most pleasurable sense of happy satisfaction and served to emphasise the spectacular amalgamation between these two musical forms, and one which served to enhance my own appreciation and understanding of this extremely accomplished band.
All in all, the entire evening was characterised by a strong feeling of being made most welcome, made comfortable in an absolute feast for the collective senses. The music enthralled and enticed in a most impressive and deeply meaningful way. One felt the sense of pride behind The Spree itself in its mission to present its audience with something unique and memorable. Which indeed they did. This was a special evening, not least because it was literally a onetime event deserving a lasting place in the heart of everyone there. The finale, ‘Keep Yourself Warm’ rose to the high ceilings and was answered with prolonged cheering from the fans, including me. If you get the chance I would recommend Frightened Rabbit live.

Reviewer: Daniel Donnelly