Richard Ashcroft

O2 Academy: Glasgow

27 May 2016


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With new album ‘These People’ riding high at number 2 in the UK midweek charts, former Verve frontman and maverick Richard Ashcroft strode out confidently to a sold-out Glasgow O2 Academy audience. It had been around five years since The Drugs Don’t Work star last appeared upon this stage; gone were the shaggy locks, the northern menacing leer which coined him the cruel nickname of ‘Mad Richard’ by the media, and in its place were a blue-suit, black polo-jumper, an army crewcut, and shades which were available to buy in the venue toilets. Regardless of such fashion faux pas, it was an electric atmosphere inside the congested arena where one and all were simply delighted to see a much-missed icon back on Glaswegian turf.

New album opener “Out Of My Body” kept things simple at the start, leading into first single “This Is How It Feels”. Both tracks offered a real punch, teeming with Phil Spector’s Wall of Sound smashing into the ruby-lit faces in the lower section. The instrumentation provided by Steve Wyreman and Adam Phillips on guitars, Steve Sidelnyk on drums, Damon Minchella on bass, and Anthony Gorry on keyboards appears to be a masterstroke as old favourites such as “Science of Silence” and New York” provided a robust backing, whilst Ashcroft’s decision to reunite with ‘Urban Hymns’ strings arranger Wil Malone elevated the music so that even those sat in the top tier back row were treated to its full capacity. The latter track from the ‘Alone With Everybody’ album in 2000 delved back further still with a drum and bass guitar-led march which clearly nodded towards The Doors ‘Five In One’.

Ashcroft’s often phlegmatic opinion of his former band has grated on fans in the past, intermittently appearing nothing more than cold, but as a live prospect he radiates nothing but pure warmth and love. From where I stood, the quixotic and timeless qualities of “Sonnet” was only slightly marred by two boisterous and highly out-of-tune ladies in the audience who were clearly suffering from antiperspirant and anger management issues, as Ashcroft led the audience down memory lane; ladettes and all. The fists remained pumping between the main attraction and audience on “Music Is Power”, before things slowed down into a more mellow sound during “Break The Night With Colour” and new track “Ain’t The Future So Bright”.

At different points throughout the evening, the star-turn insisted how good it was to be back on stage and in front of his fans, patting his heart, holding his guitar above his head, or simply crying out “I feel the love, it’s good to be back”. The feeling was mutual as the audience reacted to Verve classic “Lucky Man”, dedicated to ‘anyone lost along the way’, singing back line for line to their hero. One punter at the back continued to howl “HIS-TO-RYYY” the duration of the gig, but most seemed appeased by the song-choices that had been made. The enormous queue to the gents toilets (space for six toilets despite thousands in attendance – sort that out, O2 Academy!) watched nervously on, scared that they would miss the many classics which Ashcroft could have plucked from.

Returning for a five-song encore which included “The Drugs Don’t Work” and “Song For The Lovers”, Ashcroft shook shades from face and surprised the audience with his 1998 collaboration with UNKLE on “Lonely Souls”. Militant drums and flashing strobes turned this into an exceptional live track on what was, in all fairness, an easily forgotten generic album track. The surprises continued with how alarmingly good new single “Hold On” is live – a testament to the tight-knit group behind Ashcroft’s crooning, as the audience exploded into throwing beer cups, dancing, and arms stretching upwards to its uplifting vibes. Smile plastered across his face, Ashcroft exclaimed “Number 2 in the charts after five years of nothing” before castigating artists who live on their army of Instagram followers. It was clear that the last handful of years hadn’t been easy on the man from Wigan, and perhaps unsurprisingly his final gift was to play “Bittersweet Symphony” to a rapturous audience willing him on to keep taking things to a higher level. I confess that at this point, my note-taking has suffered and I became one of those people who need to film parts of the gig – perhaps it was just a little souvenir from a special evening which I wanted to keep. Sex and violence, melody and silence – Ashcroft brought it all during his 17-song set over two hours. This was a fantastic return to form and one can only hope that one of the UK’s finest singer-songwriters doesn’t fade into the shade of bands like Coldplay for long again – we need him around, just as much as he needs ‘these people’. All aboard!

Reviewer : Stephen Watt


Curious and Curiouser: A Night of Wonder at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh


Everything was a little topsy turvy at the Botanic Late, a curious night of scientific discovery and abandon. Walking into the airy foyer of the Gateway, I was greeted by warm staff, and a decidely bohemian spectacle of folk wandering around me adorned wth glow-in-the-dark jewelry ad silver painted faces glistening like metallic masks. The hall was punctuated by the sound of ceilidh dancers stomping their feet to the strains of Science Ceildh. The band offer a mash of continental balfolk, quebecois and nordic traditions with a dash of techno and geek culture. Beyond, a pack of grinning headphone-clad dancers shuffled their feet to the world rhythms of Samedia Shebeen, who provided cutting edge electronic from across the globe in the form of a silent disco.

This sense of freedom, with a dash of abandon, set the night in good stead. The attendees ranged from uberhip students to bubbly-toffing yuppies, all finding their niche at the diverse array of activities on offer. There were robotics stands and microgreen stations, genetics microscopes, and beer tastings – all spread throughout the spacious halls of The Gateway, and staffed with friendly, highly intelligent scientists to explain the wonders on show. Most extraordinary was the robotics stand, where visitors wth presented a “desktop” 3D Printer. The device was immersed in the task of constructing a Pythagorean glass -a device which can only be half-filled with liquid (a drop more sends the glass toppling to the ground). Beyond, visitors were invited to behold robots dancing across the floor. The inventions were extraordinary and it was a privilege to encounter technology which plays a part in so many scientific enterprises, from robots on Mars to Star Wars toys, to medicine.

On the other side of the room, beyond the slightly overpriced bar, a team of kindly PhD students explained the resesarch they were conducting into genetics. Visitors were invited to peer down telescopes at vial containing mutant fruit flies – apparently bugs provide scientists with insight into genetic mutation and manipulation – a delightfully disgusting introduction to genetics. Nearby, CRUK even made an appearance, providing games to explain the ways that doctors are able to detect cancer. The representatives, drawn from the University Cancer Research department were energetic and friendly, all PhD students offering a true enthusiasm to discuss their research. If the brimming halls of The Gateway grew too busy, guests were able to take a stroll down the fragrant paths of the gardens, or lounge on cosy sofas on the outdoor decking. The evening was clear and bright, and the aroma of sizzling hot street food filled the air. The curiouser of guests were treated to virtual reality tours of the V&A, bridge-building activities, micro-green growing, jewelry upcyling, and a host of other activities designed to pique the futuristic and creative minded.

All in all it was a terrific evening. The design was thoughtful, and the attendance was just right – busy enough to feel bustling and energetic, yet spacious enough to keep queues at a minimum and seats available. If you haven’t checked out a Late, get yourself to the next one. It’s a very important date.

Reviewer Charlotte Morgan

Deoch an Dorus


Attend first festival of the season – check.
Meet a bunch of amazing people – check.
Get smashed and jump about like an arse – check.
Keep up the pace when you’re with someone and going at it and some random tries to come into your tent – check.
Bin your tent when it falls apart – check.
Get home before 2pm, put 3 bars on the fire and crack open the wine – check.
Repeat in a few weeks at Knock…

Dean Ryan



Leaving Edinburgh on a dreek windy day, I was heading to the west coast to get a ferry to the Isle of Arran for the Deoch An Dorus Festival, held for one shiny, single day on Saturday the 30th of April on the coastal shores of North Sannox on Arran.  As the ferry sailed towards Athe island the snow capped mountains skipped out of the distance, beautiful but chilly.  As we docked at Broddick Harbour the sun appeared and blue skies followed. A great sign for the shennanigins to come.

A few miles north of North Sannox you came across the camp site and festival.  Situated on the coast in one of the best locations I have seen, it was a magical start to the festival season.  With a complete sell out and a crowd of 400 people and 12 bands attending the spirits were high. There woudl have been more, Deoch could have sold 10 times as many tickets, but the local council limited numbers, & being one of the lucky ones to be there I felt kinda special.


At roughly 12.30 pm the Well Happy Band began to invite us into their world of music, happiness and dance.  A fourteen-piece band of magical characters and an array of inviting instruments, this was their first performance at a festival. Colourful in costumes and in song they delivered a uplifting set that even had the power to move the clouds.  With Alaine’s soft & magical words casting magic over us all, the clouds parted and the sun shone with blue skies to follow.  Between sun, sea and snowy mountains the crowd engaged themselves with the band into a movement of warm April dancing.   A wee gem in the making, we hope to see the Well Happy Band again this year.






Walking around the site the feeling of togetherness was apparent, you felt everyone had waited  long enough for a chance to enjoy the wonderful out doors of the Scottish Festival Season. The joy of catching up with old friends and familiar faces was clear to see , greetings, laughter and shouting , hugs and embracing  was all shared with a big smile.



So the day continued, & catching as much music as I could fit in, I wandered to & fro between the two stages. The Fast Camels were a rocking bunch of lads, with hard rock beats they did themselves justice. Colonel Mustard and the Dijon 5 gave us the yellow fever… bright, colourful music that had us skanking like bees making honey.  They never fail to deliver their unique brand of fun & funk. A tight set with well timed beats. The No Name band consisted of a group of young lads who had only rehearsed a few times before this gig. With such songs as “Get a Job” they were well tuned into the reality of what matters when it comes to lyrics. With a rock and folk feel to their sound they deserved all the applause they got.  Well done !!!!


With a small intermission between bands I managed to capture the feel of the festival by chatting to festival goers and taking some memorable photographs. Then I had the pleasure of catching new band, Ichy Pinks, fronted by Nima Mariaaida, a sonic blast of beat-driven good times, choral glory & one hell of a funky costume. A real treat.

Ichy Pinks


Next up were the funky, slick soulful disco band “Tinky Disco” with MC Mike on lead vocals. This band have been evolving well over the last year and with their funky beats and sleazy slick guitar sounds they have been entertaining audiences. With the down to earth fun of “Pussy Bus” and hard hitting message of “Dynamics” the members of Tinky Disco approach their music in a unique way.  You can skank, dance, boogie, jump and shake your arse to Tinky Disco as their diversity in music has something for everyone. With the addition of keyboards and percussion on the side this band I would expect   to become a familiar sight on the festival circuit.  As the sun set on the coastline their set came to a close with “Tinky Disco Party” and it surely was that, a party of spiritual togetherness. Well done Tinky Disco for bringing  alot  of warmth and good vibes to Deoch An Dorus Festival…

Mike Daniel

As the night went on  a chill appeared in the air and signs of a storm were brewing but the show must go on. With the Girobabies taking to the stage the rain lashed down and tents flew away but this did not dampen co-organiser Mark’s spirits. It was like he swallowed up the rain and blew away the cold as he and the Girobabes wanted nothing more than to do what they always do. Executing their set with precision and heart their melodic tunes blast their way through the Arran night sky. This was a beautiful start to the summer months ahead and with such locations as these the Deoch An Dorus Festival will only  thrive in further years. Thanks to all for a memorable experience.

The Twistettes playing their new album


Reviewer : Spud