The Stone Roses

Carlisle Sands Centre



Sound:5 Atmosphere:5 Performance:5


Niccolo Paganini, The County Hotel, late 19th century / The Beatles, ABC Cinema, Carlisle, 1963 / Jimi Hendrix, ABC Cinema, 1967 / AC/DC, Carlisle Market Hall, 1978 / The Jam, Carlisle Market hall, 1981 / The Smiths, Carlisle Market Hall 1984 / My Bloody Valentine, Stars & Stripes, 1988 / Lady Gaga, Carlisle Airport 2011… Genuine musical events don’t come to Carlisle very often, but let’s add the latest “happening”: The Stone Roses, Carlisle Sands Centre, 2016.

This is a genuine old skool event that very few can do:  buying tickets at the box office, queues, lemons, the sense of anticipation in the city; we’ve yet to see if the Roses will offer anything new, but they are an event: bands/artists come and go, but only The Stone Roses in 2016 can do this. The weather in Carlisle is balmy–a rare condition here–and the people are outside the bars soaking it up. A walk through Hardwick Circus takes us to the Sands Centre a theatre/sports hall and there are lemons on the roof. 8.45, the singing starts in the Sands’ bar; just after 9 pm The Stone Roses arrive and it feels like the best band on the planet is playing in your school gym; somehow this feels apt.

photo_5Ian Brown asks, “Have you got your dancing shoes on?” And we’re off: no surprises, it is Adored. The gym goes mad. And never stops. One young lad in a Leicester shirt is on his mate’s shoulders and higher than everyone else, conducting like we’re at The Moscow State Orchestra. First impressions: the band sound fabulous; just beautiful. John’s looking brilliant, a bit like a 1970s George Harrison, circa All Things Must Pass. There were mutterings that Ian’s singing was a little inconsistent the night before, not here though, he’s on the sweet spot tonight, not that it matters though as the crowd sing every word of every song as we sweep through Elephant Stone, Sally Cinnamon, Mersey Paradise, Bye  Bye Badman and Begging You. Not only the lyrics either, at some points they also sing the iconic guitar parts.


There’s a brief pause, a flag of Saint George has been hoisted in the middle of the pit; Brown gestures for it, takes it and throws it away with the Cantonaesque line: “People who fly flags don’t deserve to.”  I notice Reni give Ian a little smile that says edgy Ian, and then they segue into a crowd singalong of Elizabeth My Dear: absolutely right, this isn’t the last night of the proms. Then we’re into the Roses’ voodoo groove: Waterfall, Don’t Stop, Fools Gold. 25 minutes of bliss as the groove mutates into endless forms most beautiful:  Shards of guitar beauty all over drum & bass variations that would have made Paganini proud.

“Not bad for a Wednesday night, aye?” asks Ian. Then we’re into the finale: the new single All for One is transformed by a denser live sound more reminiscent of their past; the audience love it. Then we get more Second Coming material, Love Spreads & Breaking into Heaven: at this point an anthropologist might think they’ve discovered some new form of pagan ritual. The finish is She Bangs the Drums, This is the One and Resurrection. I’ll say no more. No encores; no more new material, and we walk out into the night to the sounds of The Supremes accurately describing our condition:  Stoned Love. This is the Stone Roses at Carlisle. 2016.

Reviewer : Paul Rivers

Photograpy : Angela Mchard

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Bernadette Peters

 The Playhouse, Edinburgh
Tuesday 7th June


Bernadette Peters is the sort of actress whose name you may not know but whose face and speaking voice are instantly recognisable from film or TV- even if you are not a big fan of musical theatre you are sure to recognise her from her role as the con-artist who pretends to be the lead character’s mother in the 1982 film ‘Annie’, or as the shy teacher who fallls for Steve Martin in ‘Pennies from heaven’, 1981. In the course of her varied annd illlustrious career she has won many awards, including 3 Tonys, and has many feathers in her cap, including stage work, films, TV, worked a recording artist and has a big heart, to boot, having raised a lot of money for AIDS and animal charities over the years.

There is something unique and likeable about her face and character, she has great stage presence and had the audience eating out of her hands in between songs, with her sharp, funny comments. She is a seasoned performer and her physical confidence is undeniable. In fact, when I researched her age I almost fell off my chair and had to check 3 different websites to make sure it wasn’t a mistake- she has the spectacular physique of a woman half her age and the voice and energy to match.

image2.jpegIn this show she performed solo, with an 11 piece backing band who played every tune beautifully, consisting of 4 string instruments (2 violins played by Jonathan Hill & Calina De La Mare and a viola and cello, played by Polly Wiltshire and Nick Cooper, respectively), as well as the timeless French Horn (Marcus Bates), with both James Mainwaring & Graeme Blevins playing sax, clarinet and flute and David Thomas on the oboe. The band leader, Marvin Laird, is a highly respected, multi-award winning musical director annd conductor who has worked with the likes of Diana ross, Dusty Springfield and the like, scored the music for TV shows such as ‘Love boat’ and ‘Quincy’ and he and BP have had one of the longest working relationships in showbiz, spanning more than 4 decades. Under his leadership the band played seamless, flawless music- the sound was clear as a bell and the perfect complement to Peters’ husky, sexy tones.

image3Some absolute classics, including ‘Fever’, and Disney’s ‘When you wish upon a star’ were belted out with flair and gusto, while other hits were given the sensitive treatment more suited to their content, such as ‘Losing my mind’ and ‘Send in the clowns’. The show ‘s primary focus was on Sondheim material and many of the other songs were not as well known as we expected yet, judging by much of the audience’s reactions this was no impediment to their enjoyment since many of them were clearly regular theatre goers and a large part was clearly made up of Radio 2 listeners of the Elaine Page show who knew their A-Z of musical theatre.

However, this is obviously not the case for anyone expecting more mainstream hits. The rather specific nature of the show was also its Achilles’ Heel- several of the songs sounded rather similar and the sort of song that is, often, superfluous in a musical where speech would have done just as well- the content definitely could have been a little more appealing to a mainstream audience but her performances were fantastic nonetheless. To sum up, BP is a wonderful performer as were the musical director and band, the show is well produced by Neil Eckersley and all the crew but unless you are a die-hard fan of musical theatre, the sort who knows and loves every song, this show is not for you and should be left to the aficionados…but if you are that aficionado then you will love it.

Reviewer : Maya Moreno



Eastbrook Hall


4th June 2016


Retro’s original venue of Queen of The South Football Club’s Palmerston Park was hastily changed to Eastbrook Hall in Dumfries following the cancellation of the Boomtown Rats, Rick Astley and The Rezillos. The Stars of The Commitments  and ABC were all that were left of what could’ve been an amazing night with an eclectic mix of punk, post punk and New Romantics synth pop sounds under one roof. Instead we had a very well oiled wedding party in one suite and a very brave attempt at ‘the show must go on’ in the other making for an altogether surreal experience.

mPhotoCommitments.jpgAlan Parkers multi award and Bafta winning movie The Commitments was filmed a quarter of a century ago and told the tale of a soul band nearly attaining stardom in a touching and moving piece of fiction. This ironically lead to the stars riding on the crest of the movie tide and becoming fact, playing live for President Bush in Capitol house  in 2005, a highlight of original cast member and bassist Ken McCluskey’s career.

Myles Hyland on lead vocals took us on a soul filled voyage that lasted 2 hours with his energy and remarkably unwavering distinctive voice holding firm despite the longevity of the set.. Sandra Hyland and Antoinette Dunleavy singing backing vocals kept us highly entertained with their unique and over the top animated dancing that transported us to the early nineties pretty pronto. Mustang Sally, Chain of Fools, Take Me To The River, Try A Little Tenderness, Nowhere to Run, In The Midnight Hour and Hard To Handle had the audience captivated with their performance . I nipped out to take a breather from the heat indoors and discovered a lone female kilted bagpipe player engaging the passers by outside in the glorious gardens serenading the setting sun and the wedding party stragglers. She was tremendous though nothing to do with the Retro gig.

The Commitments have played with top blues and soul legends such as BB KIng and the late great James Brown and more recently with Black Eyed Peas. If you want to catch them then they are playing in the Adam Smith Theatre in Kirkcaldy on Friday 17th June.


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After a brief interlude ABC bounded onstage. Martin Fry shimmied smoothly in his sharp suit much faster than looks humanly possible for a man his age. The audience were as entertaining as the band was professional. I’ve never been at a gig where pretty much all the males sang the words so seriously and intensely to their partners as they tried to emulate the dance moves going on on stage. It could easily have been narrated by David Attenborough as a rare insight into the human male’s mating ritual..a fascinating eye opener and from the balcony we had a birds eye view.

All the golden oldies were sung, The Look of Love (saved for the last song of couse) Poison Arrow which weirdly was sung again on the encore. We did get a glimpse of Lexicon of Love’s sequel Lexicon of Love 2 with Viva Love which unlike their song title That Was Then and This is Now sounded like it was made back in the day 34 years ago due to the bands singular style and unique orchestral maneuvers. A slick performance nonetheless that can be caught between now and November at a multitude of venues : the next one is Lets Rock Birmingham on the 11th June when they will be playing with Scottish acts of yesteryear Altered Images and Midge Ure

Clare Crines

Ode To Joy

Usher Hall


May 27th


John Gracie

What a joy again it was to spend an evening with Peter Oundjian & co. This season’s seminal subscription to the RSNO bares its soul to the world – their love of the classics & modernity blending into a bouquet of some beauty. Clad all in black, the Orchestra took to the the stage with a certain sense of excitement – they knew what was about to happen, I guess. Among them was Creetown’s own John Gracie, who 35 years into a his stint with the RSNO is about to lay aside his world-renowned trumpeteering from painting his incredible sonic tapestries in our ears. Beloved & respected, it was with some emotion that the entire Usher Hall applauded his arrival on the stage for one of his final shining & starry performances.’s selection – the midway point of the season – began with new blood, the profoundly pleasant Remiscipate by an undergraduate at the London Royal College of Music, Lillie Harris. Its theme is the destruction of certain Glasgow flats, a moody, psychological & energetic ten minutes that was deeply poetic. An evocative & skillful work, I especially loved the aesthetical movements of the orchestra as they swept through her ten minute composition like waves across a sun=kissed lake. Rumbling explosions, crumbling masonry & plumes of dust all floated into my mind’s eye as Lillie wove her magic. Having learnt many instruments in her childhood, her natural progression led her to composition, & she is clearly a fresh & exciting talent. For such a young dame, she gave  Remiscipate a mature sense of suspense, of an unstoppability that could only end in a giant cymbal crash as the flats smashed into concrete. Excellent!

MTE5NTU2MzE2Mzc5OTczMTMxThe central pillar of tonight’s performance was Richard Strauss’ ‘Four Last Songs,’ sung wonderfully by Norwegian soprano, Marita Solberg, who took the stage in a cyan dress, her blond locks tussling to her shoulders, & appeared among the sable orchestra like a chink of daylight in a stormblack sky. Four Last Songs has Strauss putting music to four of Herman Hesse’s haiku-like tri-quatrains, & does so exceedingly well. Of them, the superlativian second song & its galloping cha-cha-cha deer – like a railway at full speed. Solberg’s classical European voice was perfect for the task at hand, a perfect conduit for an entry into the Straussian psyche, where the steady philosophical mind of Schiller blends effortlessly with the melodic blossoms of an alpine morning tumbling down from furs. Yes Strauss & the RSNO’s interpretations of his visions provided a sumptuous glance at the glory of god and life. Listening to Solberg’s startling performance felt as if I was watching a Provencal gypsy-woman caught pick-pocketing in a narrow Marseille street, & pleading to her captors for mercy. Heartfelt to the max.

PeterOundjian_3052425b.jpg…& so the Ode of Joy, a piece of music which no human being can afford to experience in its full symphonic majesty. Preceeding it of course is the majority of Beethoven’s ninth, which is a little insipid at times, but one gets the feeling he was simply lulling us into a false sense of security. Of its inclusion in the subscription, Peter Oundjian told the Mumble,’its grand choral finale, celebrating the brotherhood of all mankind, is rightly beloved across the world, & the symphony’s compelling musical drama is also a fitting way to celebrate the RSNO’s historic birthday.’ You can tell Peter loves this piece, at times his stick-work was mesmerizing, shamanic even, & the piece was done a MASSIVE justice on the night but all parties concerned.

Beethoven was a riffer extraordinaire, & like the ending of Love Spreads by the Stone Roes he hits us one by one with orchestral layers of that earworming, ever-familiar, ever eternal piece of whimsical romantic musing. The Ode is famous for its choral support, including the return of Solberg, alongside Croatian Renata Pokupic (mezza-soprano) England’s Ben Johnson (tenor) & Germany’s Stephen Loges (bass-baritone). Chorus director Gregory Batsleer, told the Mumble, ‘I think audiences can have more connection with the Chorus if they’re singing without music, & it makes an enormous impact when the Chorus joins the Orchestra – its truly as if Beethoven couldn’t go any further with his music for orchestra & has to add a choir.’ When all are singing the word’s of Schiller’s 1785 poem full blast. there really is a fundamental shaking of the soul, as if the slopes of Olympus were echoing the chauntings of the gods.

Reviewer : Damo Bullen