Monthly Archives: April 2015
Kris Drever And Boo Hewerdine
The Fallen Angels Club
Some combinations just work. Kris Drever and Boo Hewardine are a match made in heaven in both their well judged vocal harmonies and interweaving acoustic guitar playing. Kris Drever’s main band is the award winning folk act LAU, while Boo Hewardinehas been on the music scene as a songwriter and performer for many years and is a regular in Eddi Reader’s road band. They treated a sell-out audience at The Fallen Angels Club promotion in CCA to two sets of sublime and varied music, there wasn’t a slack moment.
Kris Drever opened proceedings with two solo numbers-his voice and guitar playing were impeccable and he seems to be ever-developing as an impressive artist in his own right. Boo Hewardine joined him on stage for the third number “I Didn’t Try Hard Enough” which showcased their Harmony vocals and Kris Drever’s deft lead acoustic work. In between songs their wit and repartee entertained the audience, with much fun being had at their respective age difference among other things.
More Boo Hewerdine songs followed, both the Bonnie And Clyde inspired “Blaze Of Glory” and the atmospheric “Dragonflies” being standouts and he finished the first set with a fine solo version of the Bee Gees classic “I Started A Joke.”
The second set was as varied as the first, Copernaum, a poem by Lewis Spence set to music by Ed Millercame across powerfully, as did Boo Hewardine’s “Liar’s Dice,” a scathing indictment of the banking industry. The set ended with a stirring audience sing-along of “Patience Of Angels”- Eddi Reader was in the house helping the crowd along.
Kris Drever returned to encore “Harvest Gypsies” and was rejoined by Hewardine for a gospel tinged “Sweet Honey In The Rock.” All in all a night of quality music performed by two artists who never fail to convey their love of music and a great song.
April 24th 2015
If you have ever heard the real Abba’s music (hasn’t everyone?) then you will know it goes straight for the ‘Happy Button’ in your brain and hits it with a sledgehammer. I am pleased to report that the tribute band ‘Abba Mania’ certainly didn’t disappoint! The onstage format was simple, with a plain black backdrop, some essential lighting and a no-frills band line-up but the polished, professional and energetic performances of the band more than made up for any lack of visual grandeur. Naturally the women were the stars of the show and looked like a million Krona in every outfit. Electric blue disco pants leave very little to the imagination, I’ll have you know, but this ‘Agnetha’ and ‘Anni-Frid’ have nothing to worry about in the flab department..or the camel-toe department…oh, the relief. Their choreography was perfect and their stage presence undeniable, and there was enough audience interaction to keep even the most raucous hen-party satisfied. Most importantly, their voices were strong and uplifting- I’d wager they sounded every bit as good as the real thing.
‘Benny’ looked the part but was barely noticeable shielded behind his enormous keyboard, however ‘Björn’ added some welcome comedy to the show, merrily prancing about the stage and looking for all the world like a camped-up, satin version of a Star Wars Imperial soldier, with white, glam-rock knee-boots and a frankly hilarious synthetic wig that had us wiping tears of mirth on more than one occasion. It was clear that he thoroughly enjoyed every minute and didn’t care who knew it. All the classic songs were there and there were many, along with a couple of slightly dodgy ones that most people had never heard of, but this was clearly deemed an unofficial cue to answer the call of nature by what appeared to be half the ladies in the audience, so no harm done there. If you want an uncomplicated, cheerful night out then you could do much, much worse than ‘Abba Mania’- truly a show for every generation.
Reviewer : Maya Morena
Ingrid Fliter Plays Chopin
City Halls, Glasgow
What is it about Argentina that tends to produce individual performers of such dazzling brilliance? Perhaps it’s something good in the Buenos Aires air (geddit?!) In Football it’s the ‘no.10s’ – Di Stefano, Maradona, Messi. Supremely talented virtuosi, team-players up to a point, but essentially soloists. Their musical equivalents would be pianists – Daniel Barenboim, Martha Argerich and now, Ingrid Fliter.
The 41 year old has built her reputation largely on her mastery of Chopin, and on this evidence boy does she deserve it. Roll over Rubinstein! Hats off Horovitz! Have I gone too far? Perhaps (I sometimes do), but if there’s a better living interpreter of Chopin out there I’d like to hear them. I’d really, really love to hear them!
Poised Panther-like for most of the long orchestral introduction to Chopin’s Piano Concerto no.1 (actually the second he wrote but it was published first), only a slight shuffle and a wipe of the hands betrayed a degree of nervous intention. And it was with a feline economy of movement that she attacked. Feline economy, precision and focused aggression, but also warmth, clarity and a scarcely credible lyricism in the upper register.
The composer meant the slow second movement to “convey the experience when the eye rests on a beloved landscape, which evokes beautiful memories in one’s soul”. In her hands it seemed sadder than that, maybe the landscape had been spoilt with wind-farms, maybe they paved paradise and put a parking lot.
The third movement includes elements of a krakowiak (a dance form native to Krakow). Chopin wrote it as a farewell to his native land which he was shortly to leave behind forever, and that hint of nationalism may have produced a febrile effect at its Warsaw premiere in October 1830. It is not unreasonable to surmise that some of those in the audience were already involved in plotting the uprising against Russian rule which was to erupt just a few weeks later, and was to cost upwards of 40,000 Polish dead and wounded and the last vestiges of autonomy the ancient kingdom still enjoyed.
Sandwiching the fabulous Fliter we had an exquisitely graceful Scottish Chamber Orchestra rendition of Stravinsky’s luscious (and not at all Stravinsky-like) orchestration of Chopin’s A-flat Nocturne, notable as the first of the Russian’s fruitful collaborations (Firebird, Petrushka and the Rite of Spring) with the impresario Diaghilev, and Mendelssohn’s Italian Symphony, taken at an exhilarating pace by guest conductor Jun Maerkl.
Ingrid Fliter’s recordings of the two Chopin concertos with Maerkl and the SCO are available on Linn Records, and the SCO are available Thursday next at the Queen’s Hall for Barber’s Violin Concerto with Joseph Swensen as conductor and soloist, and next month with Swedish Soprano Lisa Larsson for a UK premiere of Martinsson’s Garden of Devotion, and (mouth wateringly) back at the Usher Hall for Haydn’s vocal masterpiece the Creation with Harry Christopher’s (of the Sixteen) conducting.
Reviewer : Tam Heinitz
Mark Olson / Monica Queen
The Fallen Angels Club at CCA was host to a double bill of Scotland’s Monica Queen and American Mark Olson.
Monica Queen kicked off proceedings with a short but very sweet set accompanied by long time musical partner Johnny Smillie, both on acoustic guitar and vocals.
Starting off with the aptly titled “In The Dark” the set progressed through from the heartfelt “Words That Take The Weight” to the closer “When It’s Time To Go.” “One Room House” was particularly affecting with Johnny Smillie providing great harmonies and tasteful lead guitar.
Monica Queens voice has been compared to Emmylou Harris’ but, to my mind, she harks back to earlier artists such as Patsy Cline but without the schmaltz.
Her self-penned country ballads can hold there own against anything you’ll hear from Emmylou Harris or Nanci Griffith.Unfortunately Monica Queen has not gone on to greater things after a long stint with 90’s band Thrum and a long critically acclaimed solo career.
Mark Olson’s main claim to fame is the fact that he was one half, with Gary Louris, of the songwriting team behind ground-breaking Americana band The Jayhawks, however his solo set at CCA showed a more reflective and folky side to his songwriting.
Playing mainly a strummed Strat and occasional dulcimer he was accompanied on harmony vocals, djembe and keyboard by Norwegian wife Ingunn Ringwold. He ran through a 1hour 20 minute set with numbers from The Jayhawks (“Blue”, “Over My Shoulder”), material from new album Goodbye Liselle and from past outings with previous project The Original Harmony Ridge Creekdippers.
Opening number “The Pacific Coast Rambler” was typical of most of the following material, which was much folkier than his Jayhawks tunes. Particular standouts of the set were an impassioned “A Poison Oleander”, “Clifton Bridge” and the encore “All These Games.”
It was obvious that the duo were a tad weary at the beginning of their show and by Olson’s own admission were drained by being on a long European tour. Between numbers some of his observations were rather rambling and eccentric, however as the night wore on they gained in energy to the benefit of the music.
Not a classic performance but interesting nonetheless from a very individual performer.
Reviewer : Dave Ivens
Sunday 20th of April
Eden Court, Inverness
Daimh are a Celtic band that has been on the scene for 17 years. They have been through several line ups, as well as the regular members Angus MacKenzie (pipes/whistle), Gabe McVarish (fiddle) and Ross Martin (guitar)this performance included two newer members of the band; Murdo Cameron: (Mandola/Mandolin/Accordion) and 21 year old Ellen MacDonald (Vocals) .
Opening with a set of three original jigs the band then brought on Ellen who sang the first of 3 songs about a farmer who had turned to drink about. Ellen sang all her songs in Gaelic but I would not let this put off anyone who does not speak the language off’ as her singing is beautiful without understanding the words. The music was extremely well performed and all the musicians showed their talent in changing from one instrument to another with no drop in ability. The original music is of a very high quality and will no doubt be part of the continuing traditional scene long into the future.
When they performed music without lyrics the music was generally more up tempo giving almost two separate performances, but at the end Ellen sang Mouth music (Puirt-à-beul) showing that she could also do happier tunes. Overall it was a thoroughly good night; my only criticism was that there was no place to dance.
If you have never experienced Celtic music before I would recommend being introduced through Daimh, and if you have and enjoy it these are some of the best performers around. They are on Tour In Mull, Skye Uist and Ireland before playing at UNIVERSITY OF ABERDEEN MAY FESTIVAL , on the 29th of May at The Lemon Tree .
Reviewer : Stewart Tonkin
Mozart And The Horn : Scottish Chamber Orchestra.
Mike and the Mechanics – The Hits Tour
Dominic Kirwan and Mary Duff – Together in Concert
Eden Court Theatre, Inverness
Dominic and Mary, right from the first beat had the audience engaged, the clapping had began, and the toes were a tapping! Dominic looking dapper in his suit and Mary in a sparkly number, both floating across the stage with confidence and ease. Dominic stated that although he had gigged in Eden Court many times over the last 25 years, as had Mary, It was their first time together in Inverness. (Mary normally pairing up with Daniel O’Donnell.)
Singing a few tracks from his new album entitled “25 years to be continued”, welcomed warmly by the crowd was his track “Crazy” which was a slower paced song, that I could envisage being used in a movie or musical. Every performance from Dominic was extremely slick, a bit too much microphone throwing for my person liking, however the mostly older crowd appearing to appreciate his swagger, with cheers and whistling a plenty!
Mary in turn then had her chance to shine, A fabulous Irish country and folk singer, wooing the audience with “Beautiful County of Mine” reminding her of back home in Meath, Ireland. Mary was then reminiscing about her previous stays in Inverness, funny tales involving alcohol. She also sang a version of her idol Patsy Cline, which was truly wonderful. Mary interacting gracefully with the audience, encouraging neighbours to link arms and sway along, which everyone seemed more than happy to oblige.
Both very talented musicians, already at the top of their entertainment ladder, they certainly provided a night of top-notch Irish entertainment. A special mention simply must go out to the gifted 5 piece band, especially the violinist with excellent trills, who also expertly played the banjo, guitar and percussion. A very impressive merchandise stall, saw folk battling to grab that perfect souvenir of their night, I think Dominic and Mary still have lots of success ahead of them, and will continue to sell out theatres for a long time to come.
Reviewer : Anna Macleod
Ruarri Joseph and Polly Barrett
Eden Court Inverness
Saturday 4th April
An enjoyable evening of well written, effortlessly performed songs by two talented musicians. Polly Bartrett started the performance with a selection of mostly melancholy songs (which she pointed out and joked about) but with her beautiful voice made the experience not sad but relaxing. Her most notable song was Anachie Gordon a beautiful Celtic ditty which captivated the audience.
Ruarri Joseph gave an impressive performance playing many songs spanning his musical career. He demonstrated his obvious talent in a varied range of songs including the upbeat “Patience”, (which had been requested by a fan) to the thoughtful “Brother” and the rail against the fickleness of the music industry “Faithless Few”. He also rocked the harmonica! Throughout the evening both artists interacted with the audience and there was a very positive vibe through the night.
Would recommend going to see Ruarri and Polly live, they are very talented musicians. They are next playing for the good people of Aviemore at the Old Bridge Inn on Wednesday 8th of April at 8.30 pm.
Reviewer : Lucy Tonkin