All posts by yodamo

Big Burns Supper Taste of Eden Opening Party

Jan 23rd

The Speigal Tent, Dumfries

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January in Scotland can be a dreich affair with many of us feeling the bite of fuel poverty and counting the cost of the Christmas glutfest. Summer and those halcyon festival days can seem so very far away. However if you happen to live in South West Scotland, a rather special seasonal celebration has been giving the streets of Dumfries a cinematic dash of colour and a reason for people to dress up like outlandish fops. We are of course taking about Big Burns Supper, arguably the biggest Burns festival on the planet. Dumfries plays host to much wackiness and boundary nudging interpretations of the world’s most famous poet and songwriter Robert Burns. So far so groovy, but when you combine this winter warmer with an opening night curated by Eden festival then you know that the ingredients are shaping up for a soufflé of frolicking and cavortment.

Setting off to the show, l quickly rounded up my posse of justified and ancient droothy neighbours, scraped my hair in some kind of order and headed out into the ancient burgh of Dumfries. First stop was the Coach and Horses for a catch up with some friends and to pay tribute to a recently deceased biker friend. Live rock music was pounding out via the sensational Mary Barclay band as we left and began winding our way to our ultimate destination of the amazing Spiegeltent.

An extra few pints were lashed down in the world famous Globe inn, to the accompaniment of a live Irish folk band. To be honest either of these venues would have provided a great night but we knew that the “A Taste of Eden Opening Night Party” was going to be a little bit special and sparkly. Our anticipation grew as the heady brew of rapidly consumed beer mixed with the cold drizzle which seemed to lurk in between the pubs. In short order the Spiegeltent materialised much like a brightly lit canvas spaceship. A quiver of excitement reverberated through the crowd and then just seemed to spiral round and round the circular venue never quite finding a way out the whole night. I was almost tempted to shout to the steward “quick secure those doors man or the excitement will escape” but managed to restrain myself.

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Tantz were first on the bill and from what l can gather these guys were developed in a secret laboratory in Leeds, Balkanesque dub and hip hop were just some of the influences which registered with me as I grinned at the gloriousness of it all, cocooned in a bubble of creativity as the January weather skulked outside. Next up Gypsy disco were the sometimes naked meat filling on this triple sandwich of entertainment and as they themselves say they attract the freaks, dreamers painted and obscure people who prefer marginalia to the main text of society.

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Come the end of the Gypsy Disco, it was like saying goodbye to an eccentric transvestite uncle when they exited stage left and cleared the decks for the Electric Swing Circus. a fusion of swing and electro music cleverly blended with a saucy bawdy vaudeville type performance that seemed to inhale time as effortlessly as an onion Johnny donning a striped shirt. All too soon my pumpkin arrived to whisk me 50 miles north to my home town of Newton Stewart, meanwhile the party moved from the speigletent to the Venue to give 500 adventurous souls a night that many of them can’t remember.

Reviewer : Sid Ambrose

Photography : Peter Robinson

The Chair & Fara

Sunday 25th Jan

Old Fruitmarket

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It’s a long walk when it’s raining from the Royal Concert Hall to the Old Fruit market, but somehow on Glasgow January nights that doesn’t seem to matter. Celtic Connections it seems is enough to warm any heart, mine in particular when you have a ticket for one of the hottest gigs at the festival. On Sunday night I was lucky enough to be in possession of such a ticket. The concert concerned was The Chair, an event which for those who have not seen the band can only be described as stunningly brilliant madness.

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The support band for the evening was Fara who like The Chair a highly talented Orcadian multi-taskers. The only difference being that The Chair are a group of lads whereas Fara are group of lassies two of whose  members I know well Louise Bichan, and Scotland’s very own princess of song not to mention Sunday’s Birthday Girl Jeana Leslie. As the crowd gathered it was a good thing this event was standing room only as the last thing anyone ever needs at a Chair gig is a chair. Believe me the band may never have played the Nolan’s 1970’s classic I’m in the mood for dancing but their followers myself included always are and it’s a great way to shed those Christmas pounds.
Fara being the support band were first to take to the stage and I have to say I was very impressed not only by their musicianship which I always knew would be of the highest standard, or with the beautiful singing voice of Jeana Leslie, but with the seamless way they transitioned between the slower more melodic tunes and the rip roaring faster ones which got everyone’s toes tapping. This is the mark of a quality Celtic act and Fara are a top quality band who know the tradition well. In a set which was all too short I really enjoyed The Fisher Three,  The Loon and his Quine, and of course my Heart is in the Highlands.  Believe me the band were quite simply superb and got the audience nicely warmed up just in time for the main event of the evening… it was now time for the madness of the Chair.
As the band took the stage the air was electric with anticipation and they got us all up dancing with a set of reels which set the tone for the night. The first of the many times I saw the band was in the heats of the Danny Kyle Open Stage and sometimes you know when you’ve seen winners. That night was one of those moments and of course I was right, indeed they had us dancing in the isles on the finals night when they as I thought they would be named among the winners. Having seen them many times since I knew what to expect…. tonight the real winners were those who didn’t.

This was a night for fast-paced jigs and reels and just when your weren’t expecting it the band would throw a song or a haunting melodic air into the mix. This was a night for playing familiar tunes and fresh new material. Most of all however it was  night of dancing for all generations and the great thing was that no one was remotely embarrassed. After all, this is a Chair night and it just kinda happens. I was a bit surprised that they only played three songs in their set and I particularly liked the one about the only landlocked parish in Orkney the title of which escapes me but my favourite part of the night was the brilliant festival reel which with so many key changes in it shows the importance of getting a band to play instruments in harmony and when this is done at it’s best as is the case with The Chair it is a joy to listen to.

As the night neared its climax so to the madness, and I had promised myself that I wasn’t going to get involved in any conga. However as is usually the case on nights like this, I got caught up in the insanity of the moment and when the conga came calling I couldn’t refuse and ended up doing exactly what I said I wouldn’t.  At the end of what was an excellent, exhilarating, and exhausting evening, I also chatted to a few audience members to see where they had travelled from. Locations included the wonderful and exotic Lanarkshire industrial towns of Motherwell, and Coatbridge, and more far flung parts of Scotland such as  Aberdeenshire, and Moray, not forgetting the many Orcadians here to support their local bands. There were also those who had travelled that wee bit further to support the band.  This included one woman who had come up from the Home Counties to see the band. Now that’s what I call loyalty, but I know she thoroughly enjoyed her evening. Well it’s a well known fact that from Orkney to Oxford everyone loves musical Chairs especially when there’s standing room only.

Reviewer : Gayle Smith

Blood & Roses: The Songs of Ewan MacColl

25th Jan

Glasgow Royal Concert Hall

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This tribute centenary concert – on what would have been singer/songwriter Ewan MacColl’s 100th birthday – was a family affair in many respects. Not only was it curated by MacColl’s two sons, Calum and Neill, and featured four grandsons (Jamie, Harry, Alex and Tom) – but other family members too, like Kate St John and, by ‘adoption’, the philosophical and talented Chaim Tannenbaum. Among the guests were another close kin group in Martin and Eliza Carthy and Norma Waterson. Also featuring strongly were Dick Gaughan, Karine Polwart, the Blue Nile’s Paul Buchanan and Pulp’s Jarvis Cocker – so no shortage of interest, and genuine accomplishment. Plus a really good house band.
So what happened? Well the night started with a solo from the man himself: a powerful, and in the circumstances even more so, recording of Ewan MacColl singing ‘A Man’s a Man’ – a perfect choice, given MacColl’s personal politics and the fact he shared a brthday wth Burns. Then there was a relayed message from Peggy Seeger, setting the tone of fond, though not over the top, remembrance and affection, with the keynotes: ‘humour, harmony, love and productivity.’And quality. Every one of those family members rose to the occasion, and a high standard in delivery and musicianship was maintained whether there were two on stage or ten, or the whole shebang for the conclusion.

There was also variety.At one point in the second half I thought: ‘There’s really a great range of songs here – to suit just about any taste’. Everything from ‘Ballad of Accounting’ (a fine opener from Gaughan and Polwart) and ‘Ballad of Tim Evans’ (the first but not last excellent contribution by Tannenbaum) to Jarvis Cocker, with his ‘rock-hard physique’, and a radio ballad from ‘The Fight Game’, then Paul Buchanan bringing fragility with poignancy to perhaps the most famous piece: ‘The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face.’

The Carthy-Waterson complex gave us, in strength and profusion: ‘Champion at Keeping Them Rollin’, ‘Space Girl’, ‘Alone’, ‘Moving On Song’ (in a great set as a tribute to Travelling Folk, with a dedication to Sheila Stewart and Ray Fisher).There was also a skilful, rambunctious set of shanties (with crackers like ‘General Taylor’ and ‘Paddy Doyle’s Boots’) from most of the males on board. Dick Gaughan’s ‘Jamie Foyer’ was as good as it gets; Karine Polwart’s ‘The Terror Time’ ditto. There were, too, some directly affecting personal connections: ‘Nobody Knew She Was There’ – MacColl’s late tribute to his mother – and also to his father in ‘My Old Man’. The most affecting of these though was both sons caught up in singing ‘The Joy of Living’. We also had – my notes in the dark were written over three times at some points – ‘Shoals of Herring’, ‘Sweet Thames Flow Softly’ and maybe more.

‘Dirty Old Town’ and ‘The Manchester Rambler’ gave us a finale of different moods and tempi, and got the slightly douce but willing audience chiming happily along. Ewan MacColl never dodged controversy in his lifetime, but he sure stuck at it; and I doubt if the man himself, who was capable of laying down guidelines for this, that and t’other, would have found much to fault in this cheering and well-rounded concert offered in his name.

Reviewer : Mr Scales

Canzoniere Grecanico Salentino

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O2 ABC (Glasgow)

23rd Jan

The chairs were out last night on the main floor of the ABC, ready for Canzoniere Grecanico Salentino, a world-touring outfit from Italy’s heel – the Salentino Peninsular. Their music of choice is the very old & very funky folk music form known as Pizzica Tarantata, which I had the great fortune to witness in its home region three winters ago.

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The support act were a highly delightful vocal group from South Africa, known as COMPLETE, who served up a fine sample of zulu-inspired native songs. Cue amazing harmonies & synchronised foot & hand movements & a completely enthralling sound that made me feel as if I was taking a nice hot bubble-bath. Pockets of Gospel broke through into their music, but unfortunately they completely butchered Yesterday by Paul MaCartney! For the last two songs they were joined onstage by Hannah Beaton & Tom Cannister, & it was lovely to see the Gaelic & the Zulu vocal traditions forge in a seamless blend.

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Then came the Italians, an amiable bunch of polished performers, who have played across the planet, including a Burmese music festival. Formed in 1975 by the writer Rina Durante, it has changed personnel on many occasions, but never its quality interpretation of the Pizzica music that has been performed in the piazzas & tavernas across Salento for centuries.

Heralding from Lecce, the gorgeous capital of Puglia, they were led by Maura Durante through a rich ensemble of songs & dances. One of these was an exceptionaly poignant piece, & uses the poem ‘Solo Andate’ Erri De Luca for its inspiration & lyrical contect. A testimony to the fatal one-way ticket that many African immigrants buy on the flimsy rafts to Italy’s shores, Durante reminds the audience that, ‘we are all sons of immigrants.’

Some of the songs in partucular really explore the paramaters of the individual chord, with a massive tamborine & boiled-egg shaped fist-drum kicking on the single bum-bum-bum of the stomping bass, with the violin, lutes, bagpipes & accordian holding the same note in a brutal & dynamic surge of sound. The only melody comes from the enchanting singers, while in front of them a beautiful woman dances elegantly, strutting & parading her stuff with a liberty forged from the unrestrained energies of the Pizzica.

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About me, like flash-fires breaking out in the September hills above Santa Catarina, handsome couples began to shimmer in a ritual meant to cure the poison of a tarantula’s bite – hence the name, Pizzica Tarantata. It comes across as something of a mating-dance, with twirling girls, arms arching from their hips, being courted by the barefooted boys buzying about them with their own arms stretched to Heaven. By the end of the show it seemd the whole place was dancing, & joining hands they danced around the ABC to settle in front of the stage to acclaim their heroes.

Reviewer : Damo Bullen

(from Solo Andata)

It was not the sea to gather
We picked up the sea with open arms.

Dropped from the highlands burned by wars and not from the sun,
traversed the deserts of the Tropic of Cancer.

When he was in sight of the sea from a height
It was the finish line, hug the foot waves.

Africa was over the sole of ants,
caravans learn from them to trample.

Under the lash of dust in column
Only the first has an obligation to raise the eyes.

The others follow the heel above,
the journey on foot is an ice-backs.

King Creosote

Royal Concert Hall

22nd Jan

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Last night at a packed Glasgow Royal Concert Hall we were witness to a magnificent musical and visual feast. King Creosote’s 9 piece band and 8 singers pulled off a stunning accompaniment to Director Virginia Heath’s lovingly collated images of a bygone Scottish era. It’s fair to say that both the music and the film could almost stand alone as fully formed pieces, but in combination, in a live setting, the experience was simply overwhelming.

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Kenny Anderson’s keening tenor was the perfect foil for the nostalgic and evocative images. Opening number Something To Believe In set the tone for the whole performance as images of; docks, North Gardner Street in Partick, the Highlands and Islands, foggy cobbled roads and dockland flashed by to a beautifully realised number played by the whole band.

The film was split into sections giving us Scotland at work, war and play. Over the course of the film we were taken to the smoky streets and factories of the city to the beauty of the Scottish countryside and beyond to the bleak Island Scottish fisheries. In Miserable Strangers we even got as far as New York with Scots emigrating abroad.

 

 

Industry contrasted pouring molten metal in a steel work with the bottling of whisky. Bluebell Cockleshell gave us girls skipping through the streets to traditional songs. The music throughout matched the mood of the film perfectly and the band rose to the occasion.

 

 

Support act Tiny Ruins are basically a vehicle for singer-songwriter Hollie Fullbrook and were the ideal addition to the evening with dreamy melodies and Fullbrooks pure vocal.

All in all there was too much to digest or describe in a simple review. Suffice to say that the evening perfectly represented the aims of Celtic Connections and that King Creosote and Virginia Heath have much to be proud of.

 

Reviewer : Dave Ivens

Andy Fairweather / Band of Friends

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O2 ABC (Glasgow)

22nd Jan

Last night, at the ABC in Glasgow, I found myself at 38 years old either the second or third youngest in a crowd of about 300 people. All around me were men of distinction & women ‘of a certain age’ (who did actually look cute when the lights dropped), who would have been teenage acolytes of the two rocky-bluesy bands bands that were about to take the stage.

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First up was Andy Fairweather, accompanied by the Lowriders, of whom Andy said, ‘In 51 years ive never had a better band.’ The music was tight & full of lovely juxtapositions betwen the instruments sax, drums, bass & Andy’s several guitars – & its no wonder that he’s worked with such leading luminaries as Eric Clapton, George Harrison, Bob Dylan & Jimi Hendrix.

When singing, I noticed that his lips hardly moved, & I was informed by an audience member that it was a trademark of his, that cocky little mod-smirk that made people love or hate him in equal measure. Having only 50 minutes for the entire set, there was no banter between songs, only frantic guitar-swapping & slightly quicker versions.

The songs were diverse, from Reggae to Beatles b-sides (I’ll Get You), which were lapped up by an increasingly ‘digging-it’ audience, who cheered loudly when they heard the first notes of his great classic, ‘Wide Eyed & Legless.’I especially enjoyued ‘If Paradise is half as nice,’ originally perform’d by Fairweather’s first band, Amen Corner.

The headline act was the trio BAND of FRIENDS, a tribute to the Irish guitar-god, Rory Gallagher, who died in 1995. Two of the band, bass-player Gerry McAvoy & drummer Ted McKenna, had played with Rory in the past, with – jamming for 20 years with the guy. The singer was the Dutch looklike, playalike & singlike Marcel Scherpenzeel, who did a tremendous job, but I dont the band were ready for a bunch of grumpy, over-loyal Weegies.


To some, Ballyshannon’s Rory Gallacher was & still is a hero – selling 30 million records without ever appearing on top of the pops. A member of the audience told me how he’d seen Rory’s first band, Taste, in Inverness in ’68 & seen him 15 more times.

But Scherpenzeel was no Rory, a little too static on stage; you could really at times cut the tension with a knife, shouts of ‘turn it up’coming from a crowd not quite prepared to see their hero being replaced by an imposter – & at one point a plastic empty glass whizzed Scherpenzeel’s head. Still – the timless genius of the music won out in the end, & by the final songs the crowd had finally de-shocked & warmed to the band, urged on by the ever-manic McAvoy.

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Reviewer : Damo Bullen

In The Round

Oran Mor

21st January

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Youth, Charisma & genuine Talent were all present in abundance last night at the Oran Mor, for the showcase of the ‘Middle of Nowhere Records’ family. Sat together in a semi-circle, bantering freely & accompanying each other’s self-penned orphic hymns were Glasgow’s marvellous velvet-jacketed Roddy Hart, Stornaway’s soft-voiced Colin Macleod & elfin-minded Miss Irenie Rose, Mull’s shy but beautiful Sorren Maclean & of course  Aviemore’s Rachel Sermanni, about whose divine vocals & remarkable fretswomanship the Record label was initially woven.

Rob Hicks, the boss of ‘Middle of Nowhere’ has an excrutiatingly annoying eye for talent – his charges are really that good. So happy with them I believe he is, that when he discovered that his one-off vinyl edition to accompany the show was still in transit from Germany (the weather apparently), he was still bloody grinning, so sure was he of his lovely team. He took orders on teh LP, by the way, & offered to pay postage for free!

 

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The show was sold-out, packed to the rafters & really enjoying the hootenanny laid up on such a harmonious platter. It felt a bit like being sat in the Gaslight Cafe, Greenwich Village, 1959, with the young Bob & Dylan shaking the midwest dust from his feet – then in walks Joan Baez & the rest is history. For me, it seems like the natural genius of the folk music of the Highlands & Islands could well be instrumental in some kind of national revival. These guys are young, with the world at their feet, with many a beautiful song yet to be written, yet to be plucked from the glens & the streams, yet to be sung on the desolate hills.

I think the best way to finish this review is to simply let the kids do the talking for themselves, so here are a few you-tube clips, & a link to their record label, where I am sure you will soon be purchasing an album or three.

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Danny Kyle Open Stage

GLASGOW ROYAL CONCERT HALL

 21 January 2015

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January is, traditionally, a healthy month spent recuperating from festive frolics and exertion. Fortunately, Glasgow fails to comprehend the term quiet night in, and an array of parties to choose from continues, from the formidable King Tut’s New Year’s Revolution to the endearing and irreplaceable Celtic Connections festival. With snow blanketing the suburbs, it was down to Glasgow Royal Concert Hall to thaw the fingers and draw the crowds in. The Danny Kyle stage, named after the legendary Scottish folk singer, is held within the Exhibition Hall and has been the platform where a number of now-established names presented their talents. This free-entry stage welcomed submissions from rising musical acts to exhibit their songs in an effort to reach a ticketed showcase concert on 1st February 2015.

 

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Now five nights in, and with Celtic Music Radio streaming the event, tonight’s acts included one of the Vale of Leven’s most-loved bands, Have Mercy Las Vegas. Described by Jim Gellatly as “an ideal festival band with stacks of energy”, the Vegas have been building up a steady following across the country over the last couple of years with their obstreperous, rollicking sounds blended with congenial polyphonic harmonies. With debut album ‘That’s Life’ neatly tucked into the rear-end of 2014, the band were keen to propel their West Dunbartonshire-flavour of roots and blues and rally the frozen audience into stamping grit off their boots; raise one mitten to the roof.

 


With no fewer than six band members, most stages are usually squeezed to fit the full Vegas crowd in. It was apparent from the start that bassist Marc McLean would be forced to play much of the set with his back to the crowd in an effort to avoid feedback. This ploy worked as the band eased themselves into EP release and fans’ favourite “Tear To My Eye”. The glorious echo of the line hanging out with an angel quickly had the seated crowd yearning for more. This was followed by a frenetic, feverish “Barn Stomp”, led by Andrew Napier’s agitated fiddle and Stephen Scott’s equally frenzied banjo-playing. It was a smart move by Vegas to showcase different strings to their bow, pardon the pun, slowing things down with lead singers Crispin McAlpine and Eilidh Trotter sharing harmonies on the lesser-played “Plastic Promises”, before rounding off their 4-song set with the wonderful “Bonnie and Clyde” from their debut album.

Have Mercy Las Vegas performing on the BBC Alba programme, Rapal.
Have Mercy Las Vegas performing on the BBC Alba programme, Rapal.

Second to the stage was student Tom Vevers. This was a far more intimate performance which allowed Vevers to demonstrate a sweet display of acoustic guitar and vocal dynamics. Opener “Wait And See” had shades of Tom McRae, captivating the 250 capacity-filled audience. A slower-paced love ballad “Science Class” followed after Vevers’ witty repertoire between songs, begging the subject of the piece Where do you think the light goes when it leaves your eyes?, and one final song “Low” wrapped up a short, but effective set.

 

Following Vevers was the treat that was Granny Green. This trio consist of a trumpet, an accordion, and a much-cherish tuba. Stamping their own mark on an established opener, it was left to tuba player Rachel Brown to provide a quite breathtaking opener for second number, “Fnook” (Ladies, correct me if this is not the right spelling but I do remember that it is a Norwegian word for ‘something small’). A fascinating display of musicianship which managed to make the tuba sound like a didgeridoo and a drumkit in places, and a true delight to see and hear live. The Granny Green girls rounded off their set with a third song, mournful to start with but gradually twisting, turning, bordering on film noir as they reached the climax. This was the first band since Grousebeater Soundsystem at Loopallu Festival in 2009 that has made me  smile ear to ear at sounds that belongs to no genre and are entirely original.

 

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Granny Greeen

 

Shetland lass Chloe Robertson filled the fourth spot with an acoustic set similar to the afore-mentioned Vevers – each song improving on the one before it. Robertson’s warm manner shone through songs “The Symptoms And The Signs” and “Stitches” – the latter was described as a gentle let-down. Feasibly the strongest song that emerged was the clever “Insomnia”. Hardly breaking new ground on subject matter, but Robertson’s ability to lend her own personal experience in the songs draws listeners in like moths to a flame. The fifth and final number “Fish Out Of Water” was penned when Robertson was a mere 15 years old, which makes it all the more remarkable that this was a delightful way to finish her turn on the Danny Kyle stage.

 

 

The final act of the evening was the recently-formed Talisk. This trio had already performed at the Royal Albert Hall and were a clear favourite among large sections of the audience. The balance between concertina, fiddle and guitar quickly engaged the audience into hand-clapping and whooping along with each number. Talisk’s interpretation of traditional music wasn’t to my own tastes, but a version of “Baby Broons” was a welcome addition within their set, and Mohsen Amini’s concertina on final song “Kettles” was highly moving, suggesting that this band deserved their place every bit as much as their peers this evening.

It was then left to host Liz Clark to thank all who had contributed to a wonderful evening and wait to hear in approximately one week’s time which successful act will proceed to the illustrious ticketed event.

 

Reviewer : Stephen Watt

Wee Dub Hogmanay

Studio 24

Edinburgh

New Year 2015!!!

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From half way down Carlton Road you could hear the sound of Studio 24″s musical masterpiece that they had put on for the end of 2014 !!!!  On entering Studio 24 the music took hold of you like a warm embrace from a close friend. THE WEE DUB was in full swing, blasting out the tunes that make them unique…  The music, the dance and the vibe was electric. Without further thought I plunged myself into the crowd, onto the dance floor and allowed the music to take me on a magical musical journey through the first few hours of 2015.

With Mungo’s Hi Fi, Prince Batty and Dread Squad, we were all in for the long haul.  A  Five Hour mash-up of friends, dancing, drinking and loving was only what most people had in mind.  With a great vibe and friends you couldn’t have asked for a better way to see in a New Year and ending the last one with a Bang !!!! Well done to all the staff at Studio 24 and to the Wee Dub crew for putting on a great show.

Reviewer : Spud

Dunedin Consort : Handel’s Messiah

Queens Hall, Edinburgh

21/12/14

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Handel composed this sacred oratorio in 1741 to raise money for 3 Dublin charities, his librettist Charles Jennens provided the text compiling verses from the old and new testament to depict the life and death of Jesus and the tragic injustice of his life in order to bring salvation to mankind. Handel was in poor health at the time, but the result was Handel’s most revered oratorio, which was extremely well received from its first performance through to the present day.It has certainly stood the test of time, and provides a welcome refuge from the commercial emphasis of Christmas in our modern times. The music brings this spiritual text an emotional depth and moves us in a way that would be much harder with the text alone. Shifting from major to minor keys, dynamic string parts, and beautiful harmonic progressions. Solo parts follow choral parts, covering the emotional spectrum of hope, melancholy and sorrow, conflict and ultimately celebration and joy of Christ’s resurrection and mankind’s liberation.

The orchestra and choir were relatively small and gave an intimate atmosphere that I quickly adjusted to. The music was performed to a very high standard, conducted and directed by John Butt. Mhairi Lawson the solo soprano was the highlight for me, with her moving arias and relationship with the audience. Rowan Hellier, sang the alto parts with delicate precision and Thomas Walker tenor sang the beautiful ‘comfort ye’ and other arias with sensitivity and poignancy.

David Shipley with his regal bass voice added majesty and richness to the performance. This is an annual event at the Queen’s hall which many no doubt attend year in year out, with such a beautiful piece of music so expertly and sensitively performed, it is surely soul music that is much appreciated at this time of year. FOUR STARS

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Reviewer : Sophie Younger