Divine’s Hogmanay

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Stramash, Edinburgh
31.12.2018.


Having lived in Edinburgh for the greater part of my life now, Hogmanay I have experienced, the bells and the Fireworks, from just about every location possible in Edinburgh. On Princess Street, Calton Hill, Arthurs Seat, Blackford Hill, last years Princes St Gardens. With the frequency of mega firework displays in Edinburgh. The appeal for the OOOOoo Ahhhhhhh factor wains somewhat. So I wasnae sure what I was going to do this year., however good The Human League, Colonel Mustard And The Dijon 5 and Rag N Bone Man were at last years street party was baltic and not the most comfortable gig I have attended So the musical draw was nae there for me this year.

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The Muse was taking me to the Cowgate and Stramash to witness and groove Three local Bands that I have celebrated in reviews of past years. Sea Bass Kid, who I shared the bill with at Granny Radge’s Hogmanay Bash at The Backpackers in 2014. They were first on, so I made sure that I was on time.to experience proceedings with David Blair and our host Steven StramashThank you for the invite guys  . Sea Bass Kid were the perfect band to bring the Bells in. A Folky Stomp that cover everything from Reggae, Ska, Rock N roll Folk and traditional Scottish tunes. The dance was on and Stramash was packed to the rafters. at the Bells, Aulde lang Sign was the song of choice and everyone in Stramash Loved hugged and kissed. It was awesome. When they did a cover of Underworlds Born Slippy, performed in sea Bass Kids unique Folk Rock way, myself and the celebrating audience agreed, it was absolutely fantastic. 5 stars all round guys. Awesome 

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There were so many people in Stramash last night that I love and had nae seen for a while. there was a really good vibe perfectly created by Sea Bass Kid. The party was on. Bombskare are a local Ska outfit that have achieved great things in recent years becoming festival headliners, with an infectious blend of Rock N Roll and Traditional Ska. Its been a while They always bring my inner Ska Boy out and I was all Walt Jabsco for the occasion. Sea Bass kid had warmed the venue to fever pitch Bombskare set it on fire. Everyone was having the best time. fantastic Gig Another 5 stars.

By 2.00am on The First Of January 2019. I was knackered and my hip was nipping, my boots though, were supporting my sartorial elegance and thoughts of blisters were far from my mind. So my apologies to Jay Supa and his wonderful band for not staying for his performance, But they are a band that have created the funk in my world in years past and I know that you will have continued the delight in my absence. Love you guys.  Divinexx.

All in All 5 Stars All Round

Mark ‘Divine’ Calvert

The Medicine Men, Stanley Odd, Colonel Mustard & The Dijon 5.

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Barrowland Ballroom. Glasgow.
22nd December 2018


My night was curtailed by TK Max Berghaus walking boots. BLISTERS! I danced so much during The Medicine Men and Stanley Odd. Stanley Odd I had seen before on the festival circuit so I knew to expect good quality Scottish Hip Hop.. The Medicine Men I had nae seen before. Being a Spiritual Healer the name of the band intrigued me. An emerging talent that took Rock N Roll inspiration from Rush, progressive and captivating.creating in unison a very satisfying Progressive Rock/Funk groove. The perfect opener for the nights proceedings.

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Indeed, the morning before the gig, I had freshly dyed my hair flame red, Brought a ten year cycle of Healing Development to a satisfying conclusion, shaped my eyebrows, crimped my lush red hair and spent some quality time doing my make up. When one has healed as deeply as this and one knows that this feeling in my heart a quiet celebration and my date with The Mustards at the Barrowland Ballroom gave me an added incentive to look fabulous. I had time to pop in to see Amisa Neonova before I walked into town for my bus to Glasgow, My boots had created a blister the day before so bought some plasters, hmm its a new boots kind of thing. So I placed plasters in the appropriate places and two pairs of socks. By the time I got to the bus stop the plasters were failing in preventing the blisters from hurting. It was nice to get on the bus my hip was nipping a bit too (Old age and growing pains). I meditated throughout my lovely bus ride. Holding the love in The Barrowland. The morning before whilst sending distant healing I had asked the Angels to ground the love and heal the hearts of the people attending in the Barrowland Ballroom. It worked. ❤ The place was Bouncing. However the walk from Buchannon street to The Barrowland, having only been there once before I had a vague idea of where I was heading, Divine disnae have a fancy phone so I had to use old skool tech knowledge and asked people directions to get to my destination. I wanted to be at the venue in time for The Medicine Men so had hastened my pace. This was not proving fitting for comfy walking.The Blisters were bringing tears to my eyes. The Barrowland Ballroom’s Brilliant neon sign flashing its multicoloured Glory, I joined the queue and picked up my AAA All Areas. Pass, put my coat in the cloakroom, had a burger and a can of juice and headed to the ballroom.

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I hit the Ballroom dancef loor bang on 7.30pm. To be delighted by The Medicine Men, proving to be the perfect warm up for Stanley Odd. Who thrilled the increasingly filling Barrowlands. inbetween bands DJ5 mixed classic rave keeping musical momentum and driving my dancing feet wild. I boogied with Angela Jack for a while. By the time Colonel Mustard took to the stage my right foot was so sore it hurt to move it. So I flashed my AAA pass and took a comfy seat at the back of the Ballroom on the riser. It was a perfect vantage point.

Having followed the rise of Colonel Mustard And The Dijon 5 for a number of years now, this would prove to be the 2nd time I have seen them take the Barrowland by storm. Both times filling the place with their loyal Yellow Army, inbetween the two times I have witnessed the live spectacular, This band have notched up the air miles both creatively and physically. Taking the show to be a Headliner at The Edinburgh Hogmanay Street Party to headlining most of the Scottish festival circuit performing to increasingly bigger audiences. They have also taken the Yellow Movement to South Korea twice. So with a set of songs so well rehearsed, it would be impossible not to thrill the now capacity Ballroom fit to explode with anticipation of their heroes return. With DJ5’s opening banger The Dijon 5 took to the stage and the party went off.

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The Mustards played their cannon beautifully, full of colour an inflatable bounciness, firing through all of their greatest songs. The Ballroom was full of Bouncing happy people singing along to all of the songs performed, word perfect. A testament to how greatly loved Colonel Mustard And The Dijon 5 are. This band of Angels donate a large proportion of Gig profits to worthwhile charities. Indeed a creative art performance spectacular that benefits all concerned. So it came as no surprise that they were inducted into The Barrowland Hall Of Fame last night. The audience went wild, the legendary sprung dance floor was bouncing. This was the ultimate feel good Gig, The 90 min performance time flew by but bye eck I’m glad I made the effort.

After the gig I was torn between the options of going to The Art School After Party or catching the 23.59 bus home. My blistered foot was dictating the flow. So I hobbled across Glasgow and got the bus back to Edinburgh. The boots are going back to TK Max.

5 Stars For the Performance.
0 stars For the Boots

Mark ‘Divine’ Calvert

Photography: Mundito

An Evening of Traditional Music

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Royal Conservatoire Scotland
Glasgow
5th December 2018


Back at the beautiful Ledger Room in early December, there was a great sense of welcome at the Royal Conservatoire Scotland. The title anticipated an enjoyable show: “An evening of traditional music” to be given by students from all four years of the programme. All of whom performed songs that were both covers and songs written by traditional composers; odes with both serious and frivolous content and all on the theme of traditional Celtic (Irish & Scottish) folk music.

It was the sheer variety of this performance that really held it apart from other musical gatherings of the classic traditional kind. And the refreshing youth at its heart did nothing but refresh us as we sat in our plush red seats. The set was prepped for up to 8 or 9 players who, apart from the piano carried their own instruments on stage each time. There were violins, bagpipes, piano, guitar and, as a constant throughout, a harp. With each instrument being used to the fullest extent, the evening proceeded with high exuberance and brilliance from every performer. Having a new group on stage for every song only enhanced the sense of entertainment and made the evening fly by.

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Woven through the established works, the students also performed their own pieces as they had been set tasks to in turn create their own songs; they had come up with something quite serious such as crime stories or death, with a melody to fit into the music to give an exact focus of how to celebrate these stories in turn. The music swelled from traditional dance tunes that had your feet tapping, and only fell just short of getting you up out of your chair to dance, now faster now slower as song by song we welcomed the performers to the stage in ever changing tempo and mood.

More often than not, all the instruments blended together so well that no one performer stood out. Rather everyone focused their attention on their collaborations so that together they shone. And, having said that, the direction of the scores took their turns and twists from solos of violin and the mighty bagpipes which were loudest of all and nearly blew the roof off which their spooky heart-ending dedication to the tradition of Scottish folk music. That sense of tradition grew to a great height when lyrics in Gaelic gave the music a kind of heart and soul.

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A notable feature of this evening of traditional music was the great variety of nationalities who were performing together, which served to emphasise the universality of music and the way it can dissolve boundaries. An ethos that the Conservatoire is very conscious of and proud to maintain. And as they all sat and played together you couldn’t help wondering where they would all be a year from now and what the future would bring. One can only wish them great luck and the best of things for times to come.

There is, it seems, a whole new respect for this evening’s kind of traditional music round the globe because of evenings like this and the work the Royal Conservatoire Scotland is doing. And quite right too – I don’t know anyone who doesn’t like it, what’s not to love?

Reviewer: Daniel Donnelly

 

Søndergård’s Guide to the Orchestra

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Royal Scottish National Orchestra

Glasgow Royal Concert Hall 

Saturday 24 November


To celebrate the Year of Young People, the RSNO performed a programme of  treats for what their celebrated conductor Thomas  Søndergård called “the young at heart”. Britten’s Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra is known to all classical musically minded families in its narrated version as entertaining but a wee bit didactic. But here we were given the original concert version and Britten’s brilliant orchestration of Purcell’s sea shanty theme an interpretation that was as scintillating as it was instructive. The full-bodied opening statement was followed by each section of the orchestra in turn playing variations on the theme to show off their timbre and range, before the whole was re-built with the finale’s great fugue. But that only describes the form. What the RSNO and their conductor gave us was Britten’s playful catalogue of the almost infinite number of possible textural combinations between percussion, timpani, woodwind,brass and strings, played with terrific clarity. It was like being given a grown up version of what was written for the young, without any loss of the fun it has engendered since its first performance in 1946.

“Open the Eastern Windows” by Michael Cryne, winner of the RSNO’s 17:18 Hub New Work commission is unlikely to enjoy such longevity. On first hearing at least, his composition had no apparent form or discernible logic. With nothing for the mind to latch on to during ten minutes of agreeable sounds apparently proceeding solely via shifts in volume and tonalities, its première was a disappointment.  And then on came two grand pianos which were nestled together like pieces of a jig-saw, and twins Christina and Michelle Naughton to play Poulenc’s Concerto for Two Pianos. The youthful and glamorous pair played the work with brilliance and enthusiasm, bringing out the exoticism and lyricism of the three contrasting movements, while the orchestra’s pleasure in performing this entertaining work with such sensitive interpreters of its shifting moods, was apparent.

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Another première brought a complete contrast of mood in “Ghost Songs”, a specially commissioned work for the year of Young People, from Gary Carpenter. The RSNO’s Junior Chorus gave a wonderful account of his sensitive settings of four poems by Scots poet Marion Angus, R L Stevenson’s “On Some Ghostly Companions at a Spa” and the folk ballad “The Wee Wee Man”. The composer exploited the quality of the children’s singing – not only their remarkable musicianship and beautiful sound – but also their nimble articulation and willingness to engage with the mysterious, spooky, amusing verses they were singing. This new composition will get many an outing over the years to come because its composer matched his forces and materials to express the qualities of the texts, and in so doing created a memorable musical experience for audiences of any age.

Last but by no means least, the final treat on this evening of treats was Carnival of the Animals by Camille Saint-Saëns.  Originally written only for a private concert, the composer tried to get it banned from public performance, fearing, rightly, that its popularity would eclipse, for all time, his more serious efforts. The evident pleasure the Naughton sisters showed, during their energetic commitment to every nuance of the score, more than doubled the fun for the audience. The required chamber-sized ensemble played every creature with serious wit and flair, and the double bass soloist in The Elephant and cello in The Swan were superb. For the RSNO and their conductor it must have been a treat to fill a programme with works they hoped would have their audience leaving the concert hall smiling; and it worked. One caveat: an afternoon rather than evening concert would have brought many more youngsters to hear, and be inspired by, their contemporaries in the RSNO Junior Chorus.

Mary Thomson

Resurrection / The Doors Of Perception

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The Regal, Bathgate,
Friday 23rd November


Rock ‘n’ Roll does solve most problems. The Divine natural retort at this time of year is hibernation with a capital H. One has to push one’s self to seek out the muse. So after Friday Morning’s distant healings, I gave my wisdom-streaks another colouring taking the red deeper. Colour Therapy! ❤ Then started my eye make up. Heading to Doreen’s and Andreas’s Love Shack to finish off my eyes before our Adventure to The Regal in Bathgate. To see The Doors (Of Perception) Supported by Resurrection a Stone Roses Tribute. And A Northern Soul, covering the work of Richard Ashcroft. Divine had a VIP invite. Good Time ❤ Motivation enough.

Neither me or Doreen drive, Doreen’s lovely boyfriend does and we have wheels. Andreas is from Rhodes, so finding the route out of Edinburgh was a bit of a magikal mystery tour. We got to Bathgate at 8pm, Missed a Northern Soul. Resurrection were performing as we arrived. It was my first time at The Regal and yes it is very regal indeed. Old time music hall with original features. I loved the venue.Resurrection faithfully performed The Stone Roses ‘2nd Coming.’ The performance took me back to 1995, when I first moved to Edinburgh and Brit Pop was massive. Indy clubs three times a week. June Swanson who I was staying with was the bar manager of The Citrus Club, so The Stone Roses were a soundtrack of that time. I really took Resurrection in. Brilliant musicians revering their Hero. “I Wanna Be Adored” was the trigger. 23 years ago blimey!

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Then we all travelled further back in time to the year Divine was born. 1967 and the release of LA Woman, by The Doors. Jim never got the opportunity to perform this live. I was fired up and excited to dance. The Doors (Of Perception) took to the Stage and everybody’s inner flower child emerged, The Lizard King Invoked the dance within me. And what a wonderful dance floor it was. Seeing and Hearing LA Woman performed by such accomplished and experienced musicians, it taught me a lot about composition; especially the keyboard parts and how simple they are to reproduce. Then ,Riders On A Storm took me completely. The dance was on. Groove to The Max.

Frazer “Fuzz” Fowler – vocals.
Michael Mathieson – guitar.
Huw Rees – keyboards.
Rich Gregory – bass.
Addi Addison – drums.

The Doors Of Perception got Jim Morrison’s nod of approval and the audience was totally captivated by the musical delights that this brilliant collective reproduced. Have always loved dancing to The Doors. Performed live was a real treat and tonic for the soul.

Review: Mark ‘Divine’ Calvert
Photography: Doreen Phillips

 

Rembrandt Trio

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Royal Conservatoire Scotland
Glasgow
23rd November 2018


The first sight to greet us as we entered the Royal Conservatoire’s Stevenson Hall was a black grand piano, centre stage, with music stands and seats all ready for the day’s Friday’s at One performance. The Rembrandt Trio; Adelina Hasani (violin), Paul Uyterlinde (cello) and Fali Pavri (piano) came together in 2016, inspired by the interplay between light and dark as demonstrated by the Dutch Masters of the 17th century.

The three took their places in the large space with its stark bare brick walls, violin and cello to the front, and started gently plucking notes and chords, the cello’s tones deeply resonating with the piano and violin. It would be the music itself, without lyrics, which would present to us the concept of bringing Rembrandt to life through music – the ultimate goal of the performance. The programme consisted of Ravel’s Piano Trio in A Minor, written in 1914 and completed in a hurry, spurred on by the outbreak of the First World War and the composer’s intention to enlist in the army. This was followed by the world premier of a new work commissioned by the group, “Three Faces in the Crowd” by Rory Boyle.

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The performance itself was full of contrasts – the light and dark – with the focus now on one, now on another of the trio as they expressed the various themes expressed in the music. We were treated to plenty of drama as well as sad, even despairing themes that were contained in the music. Returning also to very beautiful sounds that fell like autumn leaves echoing through our ears. The whole experience was somehow very atmospheric, helped by the wonderful acoustics of this, the RC’s main venue, as well as the visual impact of the men’s black suits contrasting with Adelina’s plush green and black ankle length gown.

The second part of the programme “Three Faces in the Crowd” was dedicated to Rembrandt’s famous painting “The Night Watch” (1642), which was projected on the large screen at the back, adding another element of excitement. Composer Rory found this painting to be the “ultimate” crowd scene and this was reflected in the music as it explored three of the characters who were part of the large crowd. This concept was rather endearing and I found myself wondering what these individuals might have been thinking at that moment. The whole composition worked wonderfully well as a piece of storytelling, delivered to a very relaxed audience.

This show was a treat for the ears – packed with drama, virtuosity and sheer heart, which could not fail to move and inspire its audience. And all achieved and accomplished within the space of an hour on a Friday lunchtime.

Daniel Donnelly

Gary Numan And The Skaparis Orchestra. Savage Part Three

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The Royal Concert Hall Glasgow.
Tuesday 20th November


They say good things come in threes, having caught Savage Part 1 at the ABC in Glasgow last Autumn, it was clear that Mr Numan had grown too big for smaller venues, it was crammed to the rafters, I wasnae in particularly fine fetal. Having just dashed from the cinema from seeing Bladerunner 2. It was so the wrong thing to do. I was in a relationship that was ending and Savage part 1, kinda finished it.

So when the Savage part 2 dates were released and The Assembly Rooms in Edinburgh was one of them. I knew a review was in order. It was a very cold March night. I had managed to get a Review pass and without a troublesome relationship weighing me down, I got into the Savage flow. Had a brilliant boogie but didn’t think the venue did the performance justice.

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So when The Orchestral Savage Dates were released I was non-fussed because I thought that he had said all he could do with Savage. I kinda decided that I was nae gonna do Savage Part 3. Then came into a bit of unexpected money, So when two surplus tickets went up on a Numan FB thing, I snapped them up, two for £40. Amisa Neonova had been telling me all year how much she wanted to see Numan. So this was the opportunity. Indeed it was fantastic.

We took our seats, Block C, was to the side, with a perfect view of the stage, In front of a curtain Christopher Payne who happens to have been part of Numans original band playing synths and violin. accompanied by his wife. Showed us why he is a band member and not a lead man, at times he looked bored and more than a little uncomfortable that his lap top was doing all the work and that he had very little to do. Even looking at his watch to see how much longer he had left. It was a reasonable support act though. His rendition of Fade To Grey by Visage, Chris was part of Visage too and along with Billy Currie was credited with its creation, Albeit without a male vocal, with wifey doing the French girl bits. When Chris engaged the audience in clapping, it got a bit cringesome. 3 Stars for the Support.

With Glasgow being the last night of the Orchestral Tour, I knew that this was going to be a good one. Having sold out The Royal Albert Hall the night before, The Orchestra and band were perfectly warmed up. Numan has always suited a bigger stage and he does like to put on a spectacular show, The Orchestral Savage are the largest venues he has done since his Wembley Performances in the 80’s.

Now Numan with an Orchestra, And yes it did work so very well, from the moment the curtain dropped, the packed Royal Concert Hall became fully engaged in the delight that was unfolding. The orchestra comprised of strings and a glockenspiel brilliantly conducted by Simon Robertshaw. The Skaparis Orchestra with Numans touring band of 25 years, together they recreated a fine selection of Numan classics both old and new.

I am pretty sure that everyone who experienced Savage Part 3 would agree that The Skaparis Orchestra brought a much needed musical depth to the songs I have heard performed many times, The most beautiful part was seeing just how much delight they were taking from their art. The light show and stage presentation was just brilliant From early classics. Metal, Films, AFE, Down In The Park. The middle period “My Breathing” A song about his disappointment at the BBC for refusing to play his songs on the radio. It took me back in time to the olden days and was delighted with the orchestral string treatment, His daughter Persia taking the girl vocal parts in her stride and of course her vocal parts in “My Name Is Ruin” were nothing less than fantastic. The perfect Proud Dad and Daughter moments ❤ It was the perfect concert and indeed it was third time lucky, Savage Part Three worked on so many different levels. It was nothing less than 5 Star Entertainment.

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Last night Gary Numan shifted his game up a gear or two, something very special is brewing. Gary Numan And Skaparis Orchestra took his work to a whole new different level and as a long time fan, I am so so glad I experienced lasts nights performance, Really! It was that good.

Reviewer: Mark ‘Divine’ Calvert
Photography: David Anderson