An Interview with Danny Holdsworth

download (1).jpgHello Danny, so where are you from & where are you at, geographically speaking?

Hi! I’m currently at home in the Blue Mountains, just outside of Sydney in Australia.


When did you first realise you were musical?

I can’t remember not having music in my life. I grew up in a house full of instruments. Both of my parents play a bit, and I have always been intrigued by anything that makes a sound.


Can you give us a brief resume of your musical career thus far?


In the UK, the thing I’m probably best known for is the show, Tubular Bells for Two, where two blokes attempt to play Mike Oldfield’s classic album, Tubular Bells. We juggle 20 instruments between us in a highly theatrical event, as you could imagine. Apart from that, I’ve played in many bands in Australia, and also compose music for theatre, TV and film.

Can you tell us about the ‘Darks Common Underground’ collective?

Darks Common Underground is a fairly recent project I’ve been working on. We are a group of musicians from the Blue Mountains, and I’m the main songwriter. Our music is has a bit of a folk undertone, and we’ve just released our debut single, Meteorites and Other Things.


What does Danny Holdsworth like to do when he’s not being musical?

When I’m not playing music, I suppose my not-so-secret passions are cricket and Nintendo. I’m a bit of a cricket tragic. I play for a local team. I stay up all night watching matches from all over the world. And I also love Nintendo, especially the Zelda series. At the moment I’m absolutely hooked on Breath of the Wild on the Nintendo Switch!

Next month you will be touring your ‘Tubular Bells For Two.’ Can you tell us about the project?

Tubular Bells for Two is a show where two blokes attempt to play all of Mike Oldfield’s classic album, Tubular Bells, live. We try to replicate the album as close as we possible can, juggling 20 instruments between us. It is a tense, theatrical and thoroughly entertaining performance that lives on a knife edge. The task at hand is so mammoth, it really can fall apart at any moment. I developed the show with my good friend and long time collaborator, Aidan Roberts. It started as a silly idea, jamming on a bunch of instruments in our living room. We never thought it would become an actual show, let alone one that would go on to tour the world! We’re both big record collectors, and one day we just happened to have a night listening to a bunch of albums of the seventies. We put on Tubular Bells, the first time either of us had heard it in a long time, and we were just mesmerised by it. So we decided to learn bits of it just for a bit of fun. On the album, at the end of side one, there’s this moment where a bass guitar plays a riff over and over, and then a procession of instruments are announced one-by-one, and each plays the main theme. So we thought, wouldn’t it be great to be on a stage, announce these instruments, then run around and play them all. And so Tubular Bells for Two was born.

We did a a one off performance in 2009 in a small venue to a bunch of family and friends, and we honestly thought that would be the end of it. But word got around about the show and people started inviting us to play it. We did the Sydney Fringe Festival in 2010, then got invited to tour Australia, then we got invited to the Edinburgh Fringe in 2012. Since then we haven’t looked back. It just keeps going, and we’ve now taken the show all over the world. The big news this time around is that, due to family commitments, Aidan has decided to stop touring the show overseas for a while. So we decided to get someone new to fill his shoes. So this tour will be the first time our new member, Tom Bamford, will be joining us. As you can imagine, its been a huge undertaking for Tom. He’s spent many months in rehearsals, and his first ever performance will be in Glasgow next month.

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You have toured the show in both the UK & Australia. What differences, if any, have you found from the audiences?

People in the UK seem to have a strong sense of ownership of Tubular Bells. I get the sense its viewed as a quintessential British achievement. Not only was it a massive hit over there, the music was ground breaking, going against all pop traditions. It was a defining moment for an entire generation, as well as launching Richard Branson’s Virgin empire. So when we first performed the show at the Edinburgh Fringe in 2012, we were unsure how it would be received. Here’s two barefoot Aussie larrikins in a crazy performance that, on the surface, seems like some kind of piss-take. But it really isn’t. We take the music very seriously. The humour and theatricality come from the ridiculous situation we have placed ourselves in. But, whilst its an entertaining and tense show, at the heart of it is our deepest respect for this classic work. And I think the audiences really got it and were willing to come on the ride with us. Every night we have the same challenge in trying to pull of a near impossible performance. Sometimes things go terribly wrong, but the audience is always there willing us to get to the end. This isn’t just a musical performance, it’s a tense journey where the music becomes a beautifully structured soundtrack to an epic task. We were absolutely taken by surprise when we received several highly esteemed awards at the Fringe. And I can’t believe that five years on we’re still being invited to perform.

Can you describe the musical partnership between yourself & Tom Bamford?

Tom and I have known each other for many years. We’re both from the Blue Mountains. We’ve played in bands together. We’ve been involved in each others different recording projects, so it just made sense that he be the person to come on board with the show.


What is it about Tubular Bells that has compelled you to recreate it to such a high standard?

It is a piece of music that, I think, stands the test of time. It doesn’t take the audience for granted. It invites you in to go on a journey. It’s beautifully structured, with an arc that is synonymous with a great classical work, or a great film. And even after all these years of performing it, I still discover small details hidden within it. If you’re going to take on performing a piece such as this, you need to do it with the utmost respect.

What will you be doing after the tour?

I’ll be heading back to Australia, preparing to launch the debut album of Darks Common Underground. Plus there’s a few theatre projects I’m really excited about. I love the idea of performing music in a way that gives an all-encompassing experience for the audience. Something more than just a band standing on a stage. Musical performance needs to be engaging, and I have a couple of new projects brewing that will, hopefully, offer some unique live experiences.


You can catch Tubular Bells for Two in the UK right now

30/09/2017 Glasgow : Lomond Auditorium, SEC
01/10/2017 Edinburgh : Queens Hall
02/10/2017 Manchester : RNMC
04/10/2017 Guildford : GLive
05/10/2017 London : Union Chapel
07/10/2017 Birmingham : Birmingham Town Hall

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The Lost Disco

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The Garden
Tisno, Croatia
16th-23rd August 2017


As the aeroplane descended from the Heavens I couldnae help thinking, that the flight had been relatively short. It was a very warm sticky night. Quite the contrast from the dark rainy day that we had left behind in Scotland. The layers of clothing were soon peeled off. the Edenites boarded the waiting carriage for our journey from Split to Tsino. It gave me time to catch up with Tom Spirals and old friend and rising superstar as the big bus wove its way through the mountains in the darkness of night to our destination and dancing adventure. Everyone was excited as we were dropped off at the car park by the sea, as we waited for directions to The Garden that would be our home. The flying things in the trees were making lots of noise as we retrieved our luggage and then headed for the check in.

Emma and I dropped our bags off and headed into town to find the crew who had already settled into wonderland. Our mission wasnae successful but we did find our bearings and had a pre-party with some lads from Skipton. into the early hours, returning to bed at about 4am.

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I awoke that Thursday Morning, it was around 9am, the temperature’s were already nudging the low thirty’s as we sat down for a hearty breakfast in the restaurant of Croatia’s answer to Butlins. I was feeling a bit sad for Kirsten, Matty and Bob. Because they had missed the flight, we found out later in the day that they had been booked onto a different flight and Bob would arrive for his DJ set later on that evening.

Baba Palmer and his beloved took myself and Emma for a walk around the site and the scenic route on the beach front to Tisno town, The sun was hot and my head was a bit jet lagged as I woheightrked out the local currency. Emma joined Becci and baby Munroe for lunch, I took my leave and headed for a solo explore. It was very very hot and the Sun was glorious. The Pontoon Sound System was firing up and my first dance of the day was beckoning.

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I followed the Afternoon House Music along the coastal path, serenaded by the clearest blue sea, the Sunlight creating Diamonds a contrast to the desert like surroundings, the dusty path wove its way through the trees, this place resembled the bush at the height of summer down under, into The Garden. The Pontoon is a Jetty, at the end of which a powerful punchy soundsystem and Dj entertained the Edenites soaking up the late afternoon Sun. Divine slipped into the groove, the inner fire was building. my foot work was complimented by the Addidas boxing boots and I let rip. Danced the afternoon Sun into the beautiful blue/green sea, Took my clothes off and went for a swim. Luckily I had my trunks on, nude bathing and swimming were deffo a no no. the sea was refreshingly cold. I smiled and inner smile of contentment and swam and swam and swam. Then danced a bit more as the Sun dried me out.

I headed to the Terrace sound system and the dance continued, The floor of the restaurant proved to be perfect for spins. As I danced in the warm Dusk of Night. The Dj span a tune, a mash up of reggae beats and Bowies Rock N Roll Suicide. It shouldn’t have worked, I wondered is this sacrilege, och i thought, Divine stop being a Bowie snob. I had a good sing a long and the dancing fire within burned a little more intensely. Just as it was getting dark, Bob, Paul, Kirsten and Matty arrived. Yes Yes Yes. My feet were on Fire. Bob Todd Off The Plane, On the Bus, Off the Bus, On the decks. I breathed a sigh of relief as Tamla Motown hastened the groove of our first full day in Paradise.

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At 10pm, Hot Chip took control of the decks on the Beach Sound System. It was the first time I had seen the lighting rig in action, Bathing the dancefloor and ocean in a sexy blue light. I danced hard for the next 5 hours, with water my only fuel, I grounded the love of Angels to full effect. Incorporating Reiki moving meditation, It was a very healing dance. The Dj was amazing. I do like Hot Chip, Celeb DJs always play for hours and hours and they never cock up. I danced till my body could dance no more and then walked slowly back to my cabin. It was Dawn, it was very warm and the Clicky flying things lamented a deep deep sleep. I was contently knackered. The inner smile was beaming. That was a fucking amazing day. Good Time Divinexx

I awoke that Friday Morning, The chalet filled with new arrivals. Bob and Paul fast asleep, I put a coffee on and Emma awoke from her sleep on the Bed in the kitchen. My body aching from the day before’s dance marathon. Friday was to be a quiet day. Restoring my fitness and tan. I was in and out of the sea all day. Chilling and cooking. Meditating and swimming. I crashed early that night and slept until 4am and headed to the Love Shack for a morning Boogie and Burger from Burgerellas. Indeed what a wonderful way to wake up. the Eden Crew had just returned from Barbarella’s, The Club that continued dance proceedings after Mid Night. Bob Iwas up for his Dawn set too. Motown on the Beach and my morning swim soundtrack. It set me up for the coming day. After I returned to the chalet and slept a bit more. It was a cooler day and quite over cast, my Dance of the afternoon was the Dusk set on the Beach Stage. A few drops of rain began to fall creating rippling circles in the sea. Tom spirals was playing The Terrace so i headed back to the chalet, to shower and touch up my make up.

As I opened the door i was greeted by three strangers, at first I thought they were dealers and soon found out that they were undercover police men. oh bugger I thought, but then remembered that I didnae have any Cannabis mainly because I didnae have the budget to buy any. This is when I discovered that cannabis in Tisno is a no no, cause if they bust you, they take your passport and will nae give it back until £500 has been paid. I never got to Toms Performance because we were being held captive. Eventually, the three stooges left, for a while it was intense. I sat and did my make up, filling the undercover boys with love. I never made it out after that, sleeping an uncomfortable sleep I awoke at 7am to prepare for my Dawn Disco.

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I was still processing the night before as I approached the decks and not really feeling the party, Bob, Paul and Emma were fast asleep in the chalet. I was still half asleep, the DJ’s that played before me still in the fire of the night before, I just thought how do I follow that. So a full on Techno groove until a coked up Blonde started asking for House, I played House, she said no not that house and proceeded to throw pine cones at me. This was testing my tolerance levels to the max. So I played some Shirly Bassey and she fucked off. I was so glad when I played my last tune. I returned to the Chalet and fell back to sleep. I was playing again at 6pm and I had five and a half hours to give a proper performance.

Sunday was surreal, a smoky haze filled the sky and turned everything a dusty brown. there was quite a warm sea breeze blowing through the trees, I gave myself lots of healing that afternoon, it was an afternoon of letting go of the things that had upset me. It worked very well. My inner smile was beaming again. My four and a half hour set, I thoroughly enjoyed. Early evening ambience and classical Divine.
The Sun was hot on Monday Morning, after coffee I wandered down to the beach. the Pyrocats were swinging in the hammocks with Ben Lane playing his guitar. The Garden crew were dismantling The Beach rig and The Pontoon Soundsystem was firing up. I went to get some water for my swinging comrades and then wandered the Coastal Path into town to get some baccy. It was such a beautiful morning. I wandered through the trees and around the harbour it was roasting.

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On the way to Harbor, I passed a local seafront drinking den, A voice shouted across “Hey Monsieur Divine, would you like a Margareta. OOOOooo La La, I replied. Yes indeed why not. It was cold and tangy and the perfect antidote to the very hot Sun. Edenites were everywhere, Sun bathing around the harbour. Owen and Paul joined me and then we all wandered into town for ice cream and coffee.

The dance continued into Mondays Dusk. I returned to the Chalet to freshen up, Paul was being creative, creating a therapy collage, working his emotions through in a very resIponsible way, Emma was getting ready for Dinner with her pals in town, Kirsten and Mattie had popped round. It was like scene from the Waltons. Both Kirsten and I had the Dance still in us. Mattie was knackered. So me and Kirsten headed back down to the Beach and The Pontoon Sound system. We danced for a while on the steps, over looking the Jetty. It was a dark Moon, a new Moon. A total Eclipse of the Sun was occurring. A gentle warm sea breeze. And the stars that shone bright, reflected upon the Ocean before me. I danced until I could Dance no more. The icecream seller had knocked off early, so i borrowed his chair and placed at the top of the steps, to get the full appreciation of the soundsystem that reproduced dance classic after dance classic in a very Hi Fidelity kind of way. It was a magikal moment, a once in a lifetime kind of feeling. The party finished at Midnight. The beauty of the Sea calm like a mill pond, I breathed the moment in untill it filled my soul. The warm peace was profound.

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Tuesday was a day of Chivalry, I was down to my last 150kuna, so maximum budgeting, I was accompanying two friends to pay a fine and then travel to a new town so that they could retrieve their passports. It was a beautiful day and everything ran smoothly, it was a weight off of everybody’s mind when we got back to Tisno, the boys feeling the sting of being £500 lighter. It was an important lesson. The penalties for recreational drug use are not the same in Croatia as they are in the UK. I was reading a copy of DJ the glossy DJ magazine Its focus was on Croatia. The Garden at Tsino holds parties every weekend and is host to some of the biggest names in Dance culture. It attracts the European Dance Community and recreational drugs are a key factor of the Groove. It should be pointed out that if you enjoy recreational drugs in Croatia, make sure you have £500, because that is how much its gonna cost if one gets caught with it.

I’m too old for chemicals, E and MDMA are a thing of my past. I do have a penchant for LSD but that is once in a blue moon.And I dance better without it. And it is the dance that motivates me, Tisno was too beautiful for a comedown. I made that decision early and I never indulge when working. So these factors. Under normal festival circumstances, I always have some cannabis in my pocket. Not having the Budget for any stopped me from having my passport confiscated. If I had have had any on my person, I would have been in a Croatian Jail, because £500 I had not And with no Mum and Dad to phone. Aye one has to be extra careful and wise to the local drug laws before partaking.

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So with the knowledge that everyone was ok and we were all going to get on Wednesdays aeroplane together. I let it all go. But the lesson was integrated and a wisdom was formed
The Eden Crew gathered for Dinner at the Tisno Hotel on the Tuesday Night, I had Pizza and two jars of ale, well it was my night off, it had been a long day, We walked back to The Garden after and when I got back to the Chalet, I was out like a light.

Our flight was a late one, on Wednesday Evening so had time to contemplate on what an amazing adventure “The Lost Disco” had been. It certainly felt as though I had been held in Tisno’s beauty for much longer. Indeed it was epic. when we arrived it was dark but the trip back to Split was in daylight. It was one of the most beautiful road trips I have ever encountered. I didnae feel sad about leaving, because i knew that this was only the beginning. An introduction and an education into a sun-soaked land.

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As our Aeroplane landed on the tarmac of Glasgow Airport, The Pilot told us that it was 16degs so a warm welcome. I picked up my luggage and was chauffeured home by Tracy Jane. Tisno is a very healing place, for all it challenges, the replenishment is swift. as a place it has touched me very deeply a love for its people, a thirst to become knowledgeable of Croatian history. It is a very Holy place with Shrines and sacred symbolism everywhere. It is a place conducive for the realisation of Healing Miracles. I am a different person than when I set off. A deep healing has happened for me. It has been a long time since I have felt this strong, whole and complete

Reviewer : Mark ‘Divine’ Calvert

Photography : Graham Wynne

Steven Osborne

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Sunday 17th September

Scottish pianist Steven Osborne turns his talents to the challenging works of George Crumb (b1929) and Morton Feldman (1926-87). Both American composers of the twentieth century and part of the avant-garde movement. The evening commenced with Morton Feldman’s Intermission 5, he consciously avoided traditional form and preferred to create music that did not tell a story or proceed in a predictable way, encouraging the listener to be in the moment. He even went to the lengths of moving bars around if he thought it necessary. Much of the piece is soft and quiet giving it a pensive, unassuming quality. However at other times it is louder and more agitated. In Piano piece 1952, the piece is played one note at a time and Feldman explores what can be done with just one finger. Extensions 3 returns to a softer quieter style with notes largely in the higher register. It is contemplative in nature and it is this quality that I enjoy about his music. The longer Palais de Mari, which he wrote in the year preceding his death, concerns a painting in the Louvre of a royal palace in the ancient region of Babylon, Syria. Feldman himself was born in New York to Russian Jews. Feldman is probably the more challenging of the two composers, as it is more abstract, but as Steven Osborne says in his introduction, it is “strangely beautiful”. But at times frustrating, as he consciously avoided taking his music in any particular direction

George Crumb’s works start with his Processional, his work falls between neo-classicism and avant-garde and his musical influences for the piano were Debussy and Bartok. Personally I enjoyed the balance between harmonic and atonal phrases. The next piece by Crumb was A Little Suite for Christmas ‘ad 1979’. This is inspired by Giotto’s frescoes in the chapel of Padua, of the story of Jesus (1305). It’s certainly a little dystopian in it’s interpretation. Crumb shows his inventiveness by using both the keys and strings at the same time, it is cleverly evocative of ancient times, and there are consistent themes of bells chiming, and dramatic echoes in the lower register. Crumb said that he sought to achieve a balance between spirituality and technicality in his music, which is clearly evident in this piece. He was born in West Virginia, and considered his music, to be “a stamp of West Virginia, with echoes and haunting sounds that cross the river at night.” George Crumb was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1968.

Steven Osborne is an accomplished pianist, who trained at St Mary’s School in Edinburgh before going to the Royal Northern College of Music. He performs recitals all over the world. All credit to Steven for performing such challenging and for many, controversial works.

Reviewer : Sophie Younger

Lammermuir Festival 2017

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The Lammermuir Festival, under the patronage of Steven Osborne, is East Lothian’s answer to a night of high culture on the town, but scattered amongst the splendidly carved architectural delights of Scotland’s greenest county jewel. Over the weekend, I managed to catch a couple of this year’s outings; the opening concert by the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra in the antique, cavernous & elegant parish church of St Mary’s in Haddington; & the much smaller, but equally as pretty-a-place-to-be church that is Dirleton Kirk. Both events were packed out & both selections of music were outstanding, as walls & rooves made to reflect choirs & ministerial preachings were all set to amplify & imbue with beauty the dancings of the reeds & strings.

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Martyn Brabbins & the BBC-SSO

At St Mary’s on the Friday, I was furnish’d with a fine three-course feast all cooked up for our delectation by conducting master-chef, Martyn Brabbins. For starters we had two slices of Wagner; The Prelude & Liebestod from Tristan und Isolde, both of which leapt upon the delicious acoustics of the kirk like young & playful embattling stags. As soon as the Prelude began we were all rooted to the spot, the music wafting over us as if fanning our cheeks on a warm summer’s eve. This opener – to both opera & festival – then grows in intensity until the cosmic, oversensual climax, & we were off, the Lammermuir Festival of 2017 was under way.

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Rowan Pierce

The next course consisted of three arias by Mozart, exceptionally sung by the young & meteorically rising talent that is soprano, Rowan Pierce. A Samling artist, she had won the first Schubert Society Singer prize at the London Song Festival in 2014, & one soon understood why as the ghosts of choirboys past lifted her angelically jasmine voice to the rafters & beyond. After an interval of exquisite honeycomb ice-cream & polite chitter-chatter, the third course was served, Mahler’s sleigh-bell jangling, soul-pounding four-part Symphony Number 4. Each of the four movements were played with both neat precision & piece-specific bombast, & the hour simply flew by upon electric wings.

The next night I drove for the first time to Dirleton, a wondrous little place, rather like a Mendips village, quite untouched by modernity, in whose kirk I would be nestling for a while. The reason was to be the Hebrides Ensemble, eight extremely talented musicians who would make Schubert’s Octet in F Major their own. Prior to this was a wee waltz though the short Rhapsodic Quintet of enigmatic 20th century composer, Herbert Howells. One can really feel the burgeoning century’s love-affair with new music in his notes, all of which are most serendipitous to hear. To listen to this particular piece is to enter a dream-bending drama, a darkly dancing-carousel & an exceptional exposition of the full range & capabilities of the Quintet.

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To the main action, then, & the Octet – a brazen attempt to out-Beethoven Beethoven – offers the hearer a growing & continuous delight. The opening note drills a hole into the psyche, through which pours wave after wave of Schubert’s melodic genius. Sometimes eyes were closed, sometimes they were gazing at the buttermilk walls, sometimes they were watching Enno Senft wield his double-bass like a medieval potter’s wheel. I felt my imagination hurrying through time to the dances of Regency England, & recreating the dance moves of gallant lords & passionate ladies in my mind. From the Allegro Vivace onwards, this Octet is near perfect, almost otherworldly in its brilliance, full of fluttering phrases & feet-thumping rhythms. Combine all this musical manna with the location & an ephemeral 80 minutes, then a simply wonderful time is had by all.

This was my first taste of the Lammermuir Festival, & I recommend it most heartily. East Lothian is a fascinating & quite frankly gorgeous corner of God’s green earth, & an excuse to wander its contours is to be well-received. Mix into this several heady portions of classical music excellently chosen, excellently played & most warmly appreciated, then one cannot fail in feeling rather exultant about life. Indeed, one could fall in love on evenings like these.


The Lammermuir Festival (September 15-24)

Is currently being played out across verdant East Lothian 

Album Review : Hippopotamus

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In a sterile period for experimental pop music, Ron and Russell Mael have nailed down fifteen tracks in California which kindles daydreams, pinning hopes like merch-stall badges upon their fans’ space-dandy jackets. Off-kilter pop is the spine which carries the band’s latest album ‘Hippopotamus’. The rambling keys, which are so distinctive of Sparks, are aided by undulating synth reverberations on songs such as the stirring ‘Edith Piaf (Said It Better Than Me)’ and ‘A Little Bit Like Fun’.

The vagaries of Sparks complexion oscillates between meditative and a devil-may-care nature, pegging the listener. On the foolhardy ‘Giddy, Giddy’, the title works in tandem with the light-headedness of the melody before leading into the BBC Radio 6 favourite and monster smash ‘What The Hell Is It This Time?’, with its Godhead figure narrating everything the world prays for, from finding missing pets to Arsenal winning – and is a truly breath-taking single propelled by an electronic drive grinding and griping with phenomenal authority.

Like some cultural safari, title track ‘Hippopotamus’ is full of rousing, agitated-lyrics and cacophonous din before tumbling into the glorious melancholy-hype of ‘Bummer’ which sees Russell Mael transform into The Fall’s Mark E. Smith at the chorus. Sparks’ lyricism remains a key weapon in the band’s arsenal, and the gratification in titles such as ‘I Wish You Were Fun’, ‘So Tell Me Mrs Lincoln Aside From That How Was The Play?’, and ‘Missionary Position’ plausibly surpass some of The Smiths’ finest inventions. On the former, the line “I wish you were fun – you say that your favourite colour’s brown” is an example of the simple but effective humour which the band have so often demonstrated within a number of their spicy compositions.

What is noticeable on ‘Hippopotamus’ is that there is no contrived endeavour to be popular – or even contemporary, and yet somehow the band prosper on both fronts. Film director Leos Carax’s accordion on ‘When You’re A French Director’ is unorthodox but works as a homage to the band’s apparent enthusiasm for his country, while American operatic singer Rebecca Sjowall’s contribution on closing track ‘Life With The MacBeths’ aides Sparks scornful outlook on television’s greed and need for ratings with a quite unearthly and beguiling reverence. This is fresh, Bohemian, tender and intelligent music. Take a step out of the mainstream and wallow in ‘Hippopotamus’ for a while.

Reviewer : Stephen Watt

A Case of You: The Music of Joni Mitchell

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22nd August 2017
Paradise at St Augustines

In this show, the music of Joni Mitchell is brought to life, by Australian Deborah Brennan (vocals & keyboard) and her accompanists Liam Garcia-Hardman (guitar and vocals) and Chris Neil (percussion & vocals). Deborah, who was fittingly raised by hippies in Adelaide, first became a fan of Joni Mitchell as a young girl. She clearly has a deep respect for Joni’s music, and with a stunning voice as well, it was a beautiful set covering many of her most celebrated songs. Deborah has an excellent vocal range, which really lends itself to Joni’s technically difficult songs. She also emanates a similar emotional fragility in her singing which makes for a very intimate show.

She delves a little into Joni’s life relating it to her own experiences; Joni’s love of travelling with the song “Carey”, and her love of returning home to California in “California”. The song “Amelia” which Joni wrote while crossing the desert about the solo pilot. She also talked of Joni Mitchell’s many relationships, which were the focus of many of her songs. “A case of you” the title track, a song about infatuation. Deborah shared with the audience a little of her own personal life; her own relationship woes before singing the emotional “both sides now” where Joni sings about the high and lows of love. She also played the popular “Big yellow taxi… they paved paradise and put up a parking lot”, a timely song about environmental issues.

Joni Mitchell’s work and life could not possibly have been covered in this set of one hour, but it was a beautiful glimpse, and Deborah Brennan seemed to be the perfect person to deliver this. She was also superbly supported by Liam Garcia-Hardman and Chris Neil; the trio had an easy musical rapport. I hope that they are back next year! A must see show for Joni Mitchell fans.

Reviewer : Sophie Younger

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Arturo Tappin 

 

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The Outhouse
August 23-27
22:00

Arturo Tappin, the flamboyant jazz and reggae musician from Barbados and graduate of Berklee College of Music, is quite a legend across the Caribbean, popping up regularly at the various Caribbean music festivals from the Bahamas to Trinidad and Tobago. Not just known in the Caribbean either, having played for Presidents Clinton, Obama as well as Castro and all over the world. Best known for being a master of the saxophone, he’s performed and recorded with many reggae greats like Eddy Grant and Maxi Priest, and has played with Roberta Flack and Luther Vandross.

He comes regularly to perform in Edinburgh during the Festival, at a great little hideaway along a tiny lane off Broughton Street called the Outhouse. He has a strong Edinburgh following too, judging by the anticipation, the sell out concerts on the first weekend and no doubt, a packed room for the each of the ten consecutive nights. In just an hour’s performance, he and his band manage to smoothly transport us around the world with classic jazz from Acker Bilk, to contemporary pop, onto well-loved, energetic, cheerful and humorous Caribbean tunes. All with his own striking and imaginative twist.

The three other members of his band are also top class musicians, on drums, double bass and keyboards, and could see they were having as much fun as we were. The night began with classic jazz, in which he has a thorough grounding, and the calypso element grew stronger and stronger as the night progressed. He gave us his version of an Acker Bilk number, surprised us with a truly flavourful and unique version of the much-covered Ed Sheeran ‘Shape of You’, and then began to cross the Atlantic to bring us some well-loved Caribbean tunes, enjoyed just as much by the non-Caribbean folks in the audience. Then a delightful traditional folk song from the French Caribbean, which I know he particularly enjoys performing, ‘Ban mwen an ti bo’. Knowing some of my musician companions that night come from a French Caribbean background, he hoped they knew enough patois to sing along to this much beloved tune, now spiced up with true Tappin flavour.

Arturo’s glittering, dazzling saxophone sparkles in the light and seems only fitting for this genial showman in his dapper suits, now trademark handlebar moustache and full grey beard. He connects as well with his audiences as he does his instruments, creating a party atmosphere from the beginning that continues to build throughout the show. With quite a few people from across the Caribbean in the audience, and other enchanted listeners, it didn’t take long for everyone to get up and start to dance. As a contrast to the sax, Arturo pulled out a rather special antique clarinet that had a story behind it. It was found in pieces and then painstakingly restored by careful hands spanning continents. “Who knows what mouths this has been in?” he quipped, just before he began to play this decades-old instrument. To complete his trio of expertise, he took out a flute as glittering as his saxophone and displayed some more of his versatility. Though not as strong as his main instrument, he continued to dazzle us, especially with the rhythmical, percussive sound effects he created with his lips.

As he moved deep into the territory of classic calypso tunes, he gave us a cheeky one by famous Lord Kitchener which had those of us in the know singing along and the rest laughing at the double entendre in the lyrics, which old-time calypso is known for. Although he has such a compelling presence, it’s never just about him. It’s about what he inspires in all of us as we come together. One hour gives us a joyful, exuberant blast of the sweet Caribbean and we are left, as we sing along with him, pleading, “Don’t, don’t stop the Carnival!” One lucky person will win the prize draw of a holiday to Barbados offered by the Barbados Tourist Board, who are sponsoring the concerts. Even those of us who won’t be so fortunate to take part in Crop Over, Barbados’ annual summer festival, will be left humming these Caribbean tunes for days afterwards. Go while you can!

Reviewer: Lisa Williams