Another beautiful evening at the Queen’s Hall! The concert opener was Dvorak’s melodically enchanting Legends (1881), which was effortlessly executed by the Scottish Chamber Orchestra. Dvorak infused Slavonic melodies into his narrative piece, which was originally composed for piano duet and later orchestrated. It is hard to imagine the lush chordal string passages and elegant, agile wind counterpoint played by four hands and the orchestral version is truly beautiful.
The melodies glide through the orchestra with ease and the players brought vitality and vigour to this already enlivening piece.
This was an evening of first hearings for me as I was treated to a thrilling rendition of Schumann’s Cello Concerto (1850). Steven Isserlis was truly magnificent and charismatic in every way. Schumann’s Cello Concerto was thought to be near impossible to play at the time of writing it and consequently was not played in Schumann’s lifetime. With this said, Isserlis played every passage with flowing ease and vigour. The virtuosic cadenzas were thrilling and the mastery of all on the stage blew me away.
The soloistic prowess didn’t end there as I was introduced to the Movement for Viola and Orchestra by Kurtag (1953-4), featuring the SCO’s lead violist Jane Atkins. Kurtag was a follower of Bartok and his Hungarian tradition, although he never managed to study with him due to Bartok’s early death. It is such a treat to hear the rich, dynamic virtuoso of the viola and Atkins played with engaging and robust elegance.
The evening drew to a close with Mendelssohn’s ‘Scottish’ Symphony, which actually has very little Scottish flavour, but it is a rousing piece all the same. The SCO have performed this piece many, many times, yet there was no lack of enthusiasm from the ensemble. In fact they were biting at every phrase.
A thoroughly well planned programme with wonderful soloists – I wouldn’t ask for more.
Back to Bacharach is a 2-hour concert celebrating the songs and life of Burt Bacharach. The show is supporting breast cancer with a pound of every ticket going to the cause as well as a £1 donation from the brochure sells. Burt Bacharach is one of the most prolific and successful songwriters of the 20th Century. As a 6 time Grammy and 3 time Academy Award winner, with 73 Top 40 hits in the US, and 52 Top 40 hits in the UK, Burt Bacharach wrote the music for over 700 published songs, which have been recorded by some 2,000 artists – from Frank Sinatra, Cilia Black and Elvis Presley to the Beatles and the Supremes. Along with lyricist Hal David, they were at the forefront of the famous Brill Building in NYC described as ‘the most important generator of popular songs in the Western world.‘
At 87 years old Burt Bacharach still tours the world to sell-out audiences. He himself and his music continue to stand the test of time. The Concert featured some of Burt Bacharach’s most well-known songs performed by Artists such as Dionne Warwick, Aretha Franklin, Barbra Streisand, Dusty Springfield, The Carpenters, Supremes, Roberta Flack, The Shirelles, Petula Clark of the female songstresses and BJ Thomas, Tom Jones, Christopher Cross, Neil Diamond, The Drifters, Luther Vandross, Herb Alpert, Gene Pitney, Isaac Hayes, Johnny Mathis and Elvis Presley. The show is beautifully presented, with many songs that we are all so familiar with, such as; I’ll Never Fall In Love Again, That’s What Friends Are For, Alfie, The look of love, Magic moments, One less bell to answer, Close to you, 24 hours from Tosca, Little red book and many more. To support the music there is a perfectly fitting visual being projected behind which shows news stories and clips from the period each song was written. The audience was appreciating a nostalgic journey through time. All-in-all a good night out would recommend this show to an older audience who will enjoy reliving the songs and the memories of the time.
In the mid-80s, Salford gave birth to a little-known band who played a pivotal battle-of-the-bands night at the infamous Hacienda watched by an enthused Tony Wilson. Of course, they were soon signed to Factory Records and went on to become a beacon of rave culture, a band whose unique blend of funk, Chicago house and psychedelia mixed into some hallucinogenic lyrics would establish them as an iconic band of the acid house movement.
In 1990 The Happy Mondays released the ‘Pills ‘n’ Thrills and Bellyaches’ album which firmly stamped itself as one of the most influential albums of the early 1990s, and to celebrate 25 years of this platinum selling third album, the band are currently embarking on a Mad For It 18-night tour.
Packing out the O2 Academy in a sea of Fred Perrys and Adidas stripes, a carnage of excitable, burnt –out faces bounced along in a chorus of classic anthems, looking like they had perhaps seen one too many Hacienda parties in their day. Rowetta, took to the stage looking forever young and with sublime and sassy presence, quickly joined by the rest of the band to an outrageous cheer, as they belted straight into a mix-up of Kinky Afro, God’s Cop and Donovan.
The young team were bouncing along with as much enthusiasm as the original Baggys, showing that The Mondays are still pulling fresh new appreciation with their new material and have remained ever youthful and current. Rock On was met with outrageous cheers, Bez was, as ever, a beacon of entertainment and a bundle of pure joy, pulling off his classic moves to a delighted crowd, shoulders wide, and arms straight, maracas flying to his infallible energy. They topped off an altogether superb night with a double encore beginning with the classic Hallelujah and ending with shear delighted carnage.
Having seen them perform in 2012 at the same venue with the mighty Inspiral Carpets for support, then a disappointingly poor performance by an awkward and cringe worthy, has-been band, I was not expecting much more from tonight’s gig. However, despite a mediocre support from Pete Mcleod, I was stunned with The Monday’s performance. Gone were the poor timing, cringe worthy vocals, and dreary appearance, and instead they were polished, tight and professional, an altogether different band putting on a top class show. The sound quality was top notch from the O2 this time round, and their enthusiasm matched in unison to the bouncing atmosphere, Shaun has scrubbed up impressively, apparently keeping true to his word “Great to be doing 25 years of Pills ’N’ Thrills… Here’s to another 25 years. I’m going to remember it this time…”. Certainly tonight was memorable for everyone. They are most definitely back to their former glory with some shiny new tunes and an interesting mixed audience. It looks like The Mondays are not quite over yet. Indeed, the stuff of legends.
Khachaturian concerto rhapsody for cello and orchestra
Dvorak –Symphony No 9 (from the New World)
Conductor : Jamie Phillips
The Water Goblin was composed in 1896, towards the end of Dvorák’s life. It tells the story of a girl who is abducted by a water goblin, to whom she has a child. But when she is allowed to visit her mother and fails to return, the goblin deposits their baby on the doorstep minus its head! Before the infectious melodies and rhythms of Dvorák’s ‘New World Symphony’ the young Armenian cellist and BBC Radio 3 New Generation Artist Narek Hakhnazaryan plays Khachaturian’s technically demanding Concerto-Rhapsody.
I used to be forced under extreme protest to go to one Scottish National Orchestra concert a year from the age of 9. Loathed it! But it left me with an occasional spasm of nostalgia and then I book to see a bit of classical music. This was one such time…
And the first thing I noticed (apart from the shimmering red curtains in the background) was that most of the audience were one or two DECADES older than the orchestra itself….a bit like the church really, classical music is failing to capture a younger audience; which is a shame, because last night was a feast of skill and technical amazingness (yes! I know that’s not a real word!)
The Watergoblin has a storyline too gruesome to have been made into a film yet… Beauty and the Beast gone bad but the music was a fantastic waterfall of bubbling contrast and depth, animated musicians and a wondrous hive of activity with percussion and wind instruments answering and calling out to the string section…….. I am beginning to sound like a music snob…. It was great, think of three rock bands jamming and you get the gist!
Hailed by the Washington Post as “a seasoned phenomenon”, Narek Hakhnazaryan is firmly established and recognised world-wide as one of the finest cellists of his generation. Having won the Cello First Prize and Gold Medal at the XIV International Tchaikovsky Competition in 2011 at the age of 22 he has already forged strong relationships across the globe with orchestras such as the Mariinsky Orchestra, Seoul Philharmonic, Filarmonica de la Scala and the London Philharmonic. In 2014 he was invited to join the prestigious BBC New Generation Artists scheme and as such his performances are broadcast regularly on BBC Radio 3.
Khachaturian’s Concerto Rhapsody was an interesting contrast. I didn’t read about it before listening to it so this is what I heard…It opened in Montparnasse, that playground for poverty stricken musicians artists and poets in Paris; think smoke filled bars full of free thinking bohemians, then the scene shifts to 1930s prohibition, and then to a 1940s genre of gangster and suspense movie soundtracks. It finishes finally with a descent (though why not an ascent I am not sure) into what conjures from me a vision of Romanian travelers and their music. As it turns out it is not Romanian but Armenian . And through it all the solo cellist (a virtuoso?) played like a demon, literally like a man possessed! His hands never stopped, he didn’t look at his music, his eyes were closed and his whole body played the cello… a seriously amazing experience! And such a young guy.
… he cannot have had much of a misspent youth to play like that- I can only appreciate his sacrifice!
And then, following multiple returns to the stage to the applause of the audience, he told us that it is the year to commemorate the genocide of 1.5 million Armenians and proceeded to play alone , an Armenian folk song. Very moving, and I am ashamed to say I knew nothing of such genocide… I will investigate today!
Following the interval Dvorak ‘s Symphony No 9 from ‘The New World’ was played. Did you know that’s where the Hovis advert comes from? I HAD read about it in advance, so sad to tell none of the usual vivid images that are evoked by classical music came to me. A lovely bit of music but marred by my desperate suppression of an irritating cough I developed earlier in the week. Having said that, I skipped out humming the tune under my breath (and coughing).
So why are so few young people going to classical concerts? They are full of fire and love, ice and hell, loud music and alcohol… sounds like the perfect concert to me! Maybe we should drag our younger relatives once a year and then allow nostalgia to take over in the future.
The Winachi Tribe, formerly known as China White, are Liam Croker on vocals, Antony Egerton (Keys / Programing) Inder Goldfinger (Percussion & Vibes), Richie Rich (Bass), Jamie Fingers Mcgregor (Guitars) & Sam Tushingham (Drums). They exploded on stage, with frontman Liam greeting us, ‘Come on Glasgow, it’s fucking Saturday night…Hello! Here’s the lads here.’ and immediately we had a dance off between two punters on the dance floor. Magic. Bumping into fellow Dodgy giggers up the front both they and I were impressed with the charisma exuding from percussion player Inder Goldfinger and the sheer raw energy in the room.
Their song Plant the Seed was entered into a competition and won allowing them to feature in upcoming documentary film on the Hacienda Do you Own the Dance-floor? Best described as a Funk, hip hop with an acid house vibe outfit with influences such as Funkadelic and sister act Parliament, Massive Attack, Primal Scream and Tom Tom Club.
Having already supported the likes of Primal Scream and Tinie Tempah at Victorious Festival in Portsmouth a couple of months back these guys are enjoying the limelight. A band to keep an eye on, they are in their element when playing live . They support Happy Mondays in Leicester’s O2 on the 22nd Nov. You can catch them in Edinburgh on the 27th Nov at La Belle Angele or in Aberdeen’s Drummonds on the 28th Nov.
Sometimes the gigs you go to with the least expectations are the ones that impress the most. One such was the musical finale to the Distant Voices festival which took place at Glasgow’s Centre For The Contemporary Arts over the last week. This evening of songs staged by Vox Liminis with help from The Scottish Centre For Crime And Justice Research featured music written by professional and semi-professional musicians with lyrics and ideas provided by people in the justice system: prisoners, prison officers and staff, social workers and justice workers. Often the musicians had only very limited time with some of the contributors which made the results even more impressive.
The evening kicked off with Emma Pollock (Delgados, Burns Unit) wrestling and fighting a losing battle with Louis Abbot’s (Admiral Fallow) acoustic guitar. After some strap adjusting, of the three solo numbers she played perhaps Ahmet’s (no second names in many cases) Home Away From Home was the most effective with it’s yearning for both Scotland and the author’s home country.
She was then joined on stage by a full band who appeared in various combinations for the rest of the night: Ross Clark of Three Blind Wolves on vocals, Louis Abbot drums and guitar, Tom Gibbs keyboards, Graham McKerracher electric guitar, Tim Davidson on pedal steel and Francis on bass and they ripped in to a full scale rocker Let It Burn.
After a couple of full band numbers Louis Abbott and Tom Gibbs gave us Armour For Spears and Hannah Graham’s affecting Prodigal’s Return followed by Abbott and Airdrie man Graham on acoustic guitars with Graham’s bluesy rant Think. Next up was prison officer Brian Simpson’s Hide In Plain Sight and Pete The Punk’s stomping Dragonfall featuring Donna Maciocia on vocals. The first half concluded with Lucy Cathcart-Froden singing the acerbic Dining Room Hospital.
The second half started off in an LA folk-rock vein with Andrew Howie giving us another Hannah Graham number A Follower, A Fighter and Take a Straw.
Louis Abbott returned to the stage with Joe Bowden’s sombre What If My Best Isn’t Good Enough and was followed by one of the evening’s highlights, Donna Maciocia singing the plaintive My Turn To Fly. The full band finished the set with How Close Is The Thunder written by two prisoners and two social workers.
The highlight of the three number encore was Jo Mango’s Co-Pilot Out sung from the viewpoint of a Cornton Vale prisoner who’s long-term cell mate has been recently released.
An impressive evening which was much appreciated by a good-sized audience and made even more impressive by the smooth changeovers between numbers; not easy to achieve with so many different vocal and instrumental combinations. Top marks to the sound man.
As You all know, Divine has had a long love affair with Debs. I have only ever seen Blondie play live once – at was in Adelaide at the Theaberton Theater back in 2004. It held the defining Debs moment, She came on stage wearing a Koo Koo fright wig it was crudely fitted and came loose mid song. So she ripped the fright wig off and let her blond locks flow, as if she had stepped into the flow of an a big electric fan. As her blond locks came alive and she smiled the Debbie Harry smile. The Divine heart melted. Ohh yes that was one rock n roll moment that will be with me for ever more.
Another rock n roll moment that will be with me forever more was Audio Soup 2012. The opening band on the main stage that year were a Blondie tribute act called Dirty Harry. It was the perfect beginning to a brilliant festival. Dirty Harry did a memorable job of performing the Blondie classics with a passion that did Debs proud. The Beauty of Debs spirit graced that performance and this is the moment that Divine fell in love with the lead singer of Dirty Harry, Sarah Kennedy. Aye, it was her remarkable resemblance in voice and physical beauty that came close to the genuine article that started off a weekend of dance and good fun!
So, getting the opportunity to review Dirty Harry and the Polis at The Liquid Rooms was a Friday delight. My trusty companion of the evening Ms Heidi Pearson and myself arrived at the venue at around 7.30pm just in time to catch the first act of the evening The Polis, A tribute act performing the masterpieces of the Police. A four piece that replicated the songs remarkably well – however, this is where any similarity stopped. The lead singer did a very good job at sounding like Sting whilst in flight of song, And it was my companion of the evening Heidi that stated how tight the band were. Divine is inclined to agree. It was retro fun and The Police did help shape Divine’s musical palette. It was fun.
The main band of the evening, Dirty Harry, assembled in front of a Parallel Lines Backdrop replicating the stage set of Blondie’s tour back in 1979. The very sassy Sarah Kennedy took to the stage and her beauty took my breath away. Swoooooon!! Dirty Harry do this so so well and the band played a sterling set with the Rock N Roll gusto that first grabbed me at Audio Soup. Yes, it was clear that Dirty Harry were enjoying this gig as much as the audience, as they faithfully performed the Blondie hits cannon. Ms Kennedy does a brilliant Debs and her band are an equally brilliant rock n roll unit. The performance was a joy to behold and everyone had a very Good Time!
After meeting the inescapably brilliant Dodgy at Mugstock earlier this year, the Mumble Team were delighted to put up the band on their recent tour – the Scottish leg consisted of a gig at Edinburgh’s Electric Circus last Friday, followed by a gig at the Hug & Pint across in Weegieland the next day. The Edinburgh gig was a cracker, by the way, a hugely appreciative audience digging the blend of new & old material, among which is My Mended Heart, a future classic. After the gig, & before they shot off to Mumble Towers for the night, the Dodgy lads very kindly came down to the Safari Lounge on Abbey Hill for a few acoustic numbers – earning their keep so to speak!
Popping back to the ranch the next day, me & my lass were delighted to find the tv had NOT been chucked through the window & the Dodgy lads had indeed, washed-up. After watching the Liverpool-Chelsea game for a bit (the drummer Mathew Priest is a Liverpool fan) the lads headed west towards the next leg of their tour, where Clare Crines takes over…
…With no support band The Dodgy Now tour proved from the outset that they didn’t require one. Dodgy were fantastic live – flinging in some very good Scottish imitations – and had us all belting out the words and pensive lyrics that reflect their social conscience. We were transported to a place in the past. Not that they live there,
‘ If you don’t live now you’ve lost control of your future
And all you’ll have is your past
To remind you of what you have lost.’
The loss of stage crew lighting technician Andy Moore caused Dodgy to reform and they have been gigging since 2007 at festivals up and down the U.K. A short interview with frontman Nigel Clark after the gig revealed his musical influences, an eclectic mix of punk from The Sexpistols, The Clash, Ruts, Dead Kennedy’s, to more hardcore bands like Crass, Velvet Underground, Bob Dylan and The Who also influenced him and no doubt informed songs of regret such as If your thinking of me which they played early on in their set.
I’m searching for the rights, that I’ve got in my mind
Sympathy and understanding then there is no better time
No one ever shows you how to learn
They’d all stand around and watch you burn
With Mathew Priest on drums and Andy Miller on guitar clearly loving performing again with Nigel Clark they have penned a new album which is untitled as yet following their 2012 album Stand Upright In A Cool Place. This is due for release March 2016. They prefer to play their current songs which sets them apart in a good way from re-formed bands who rely on earlier success. After seeing Dodgy you are guaranteed to be humming the new stuff as well as the classics from the 90’s for weeks to come. Magic!
What a stunning evening of music! The Scottish Chamber Orchestra has been celebrating the 150th birthdays of composers Carl Nielsen and Jean Sibelius all this year with a series of concerts exploring their music. In addition to Nielson and Sibelius, we were treated to a glorious World Premiere of Verdigris by Lotta Wennakoski.
The palette devised by Wennakoski was energetically enlivened by the playing of the SCO. Such a treat to hear the many Avant Garde techniques asked of all the players, including haunting, wiry string landscapes, and almost audible mutterings from the wind section. This was a truly exciting start to the evening. Wennakoski speaks of this piece as a personal and fruitful reference to the music of Sibelius with his tone poem En Saga laying the footwork for her composition.
The real gem of the evening was Nielson’s Violin Concerto with soloist Pekka Kuusisto. A beautiful and unexpected piece with complicated melodic structures and unassuming solo lines, played with care, connection and ease. Kuusisto is magnetic and skilled in all aspects of his performance and I felt truly inspired by his virtuosic freedom. We were also treated to two Polskas, which he later told me he felt sure these beautiful folk songs would not have been played before in such a grand venue. It was a privilege to hear the playing of such a humble maestro.
The evening was brought to a close with the UK premiere of an orchestral arrangement of one of Sibelius’ least known pieces, his only opera – The Maiden in the Tower. In this orchestral arrangement instruments of the orchestra replace all the vocal parts. Before hearing this work I was already intrigued by this concept and the aural reality did not fail to please. The melodic lines danced throughout the orchestra with dramatic monologues and soaring duets. Sibelius’ soundscapes are lush and powerful and this performance was exactly that.
The Scottish Chamber Orchestra not only played wonderfully, with integrity, they also exuded passion and excitement in playing this music. All of this together makes for a perfect evening of culture, creativity and escapism. My only disappointment is that there were empty seats. This concert deserves a full house. I would be there again in a heartbeat.