Eden Court – Inverness
Sat 25th April 2015
Blueflint_InstrumentsHR-e1366283749607 (1)
Blueflint are an Edinburgh five piece band with style, lead by the very talented ladies Clare Neilson and Deborah Arnott. The pair begin both playing banjos, backed by drums, double-bass and fiddle…..we begin with ‘Light In The Window’ from their second album. This folk band have a real Scottish feel to them , brimming with beautiful lyrics and harmonies.
home-image (1)
Really enjoyed the upbeat tracks from the new album ‘Stories From Home’ but was left feeling less than enthused after a few of the slower tracks. These two ladies obviously have a very strong friendship which is lovely to feel part of. They reminisce together on stage of first learning banjo and various nights of fun. Ober talented these two switch from Banjos to ukulele, to keyboard, to electric guitar with each tune. ‘ What if I Dont Want To?’ got me dancing in my seat along with ‘Seasons Are Changing’.
If Scottish /Indie/Folk is your style put Blueflint on your download list, better still go see them! there are big things expected for this five.
Reviewer : Stephanie McDaid

Kris Drever And Boo Hewerdine

The Fallen Angels Club

CCA, Glasgow



Some combinations just work. Kris Drever and Boo Hewardine are a match made in heaven in both their well judged vocal harmonies and interweaving acoustic guitar playing. Kris Drever’s main band is the award winning folk act LAU, while Boo Hewardinehas been on the music scene as a songwriter and performer for many years and is a regular in Eddi Reader’s road band. They treated a sell-out audience at The Fallen Angels Club promotion in CCA to two sets of sublime and varied music, there wasn’t a slack moment.

Kris Drever opened proceedings with two solo numbers-his voice and guitar playing were impeccable and he seems to be ever-developing as an impressive artist in his own right. Boo Hewardine joined him on stage for the third number “I Didn’t Try Hard Enough” which showcased their Harmony vocals and Kris Drever’s deft lead acoustic work. In between songs their wit and repartee entertained the audience, with much fun being had at their respective age difference among other things.

More Boo Hewerdine songs followed, both the Bonnie And Clyde inspired “Blaze Of Glory” and the atmospheric “Dragonflies” being standouts and he finished the first set with a fine solo version of the Bee Gees classic “I Started A Joke.”

The second set was as varied as the first, Copernaum, a poem by Lewis Spence set to music by Ed Millercame across powerfully, as did Boo Hewardine’s “Liar’s Dice,” a scathing indictment of the banking industry. The set ended with a stirring audience sing-along of “Patience Of Angels”- Eddi Reader was in the house helping the crowd along.

Kris Drever returned to encore “Harvest Gypsies” and was rejoined by Hewardine for a gospel tinged “Sweet Honey In The Rock.” All in all a night of quality music performed by two artists who never fail to convey their love of music and a great song.


Edinburgh Playhouse

 April 24th 2015


If you have ever heard the real Abba’s music (hasn’t everyone?) then you will know it goes straight for the ‘Happy Button’ in your brain and hits it with a sledgehammer.   I am pleased to report that the tribute band ‘Abba Mania’ certainly didn’t disappoint! The onstage format was simple, with a plain black backdrop, some essential lighting and a no-frills band line-up but the polished, professional and energetic performances of the band more than made up for any lack of visual grandeur.  Naturally the women were the stars of the show and looked like a million Krona in every outfit.  Electric blue disco pants leave very little to the imagination, I’ll have you know, but this ‘Agnetha’ and ‘Anni-Frid’ have nothing to worry about in the flab department..or the camel-toe department…oh, the relief.  Their choreography was perfect and their stage presence undeniable, and there was enough audience interaction to keep even the most raucous hen-party satisfied.  Most importantly, their voices were strong and uplifting- I’d wager they sounded every bit as good as the real thing.

‘Benny’ looked the part but was barely noticeable shielded behind his enormous keyboard, however ‘Björn’ added some welcome comedy to the show, merrily prancing about the stage and looking for all the world like a camped-up, satin version of a Star Wars Imperial soldier, with white, glam-rock knee-boots and a frankly hilarious synthetic wig that had us wiping tears of mirth on more than one occasion.  It was clear that he thoroughly enjoyed every minute and didn’t care who knew it. All the classic songs were there and there were many, along with a couple of slightly dodgy ones that most people had never heard of, but this was clearly deemed an unofficial cue to answer the call of nature by what appeared to be half the ladies in the audience, so no harm done there. If you want an uncomplicated, cheerful night out then you could do much, much worse than ‘Abba Mania’- truly a show for every generation.

Reviewer : Maya Morena

Ingrid Fliter Plays Chopin

City Halls, Glasgow

24th April


What is it about Argentina that tends to produce individual performers of such dazzling brilliance? Perhaps it’s something good in the Buenos Aires air (geddit?!) In Football it’s the ‘no.10s’ – Di Stefano, Maradona, Messi. Supremely talented virtuosi, team-players up to a point, but essentially soloists. Their musical equivalents would be pianists – Daniel Barenboim, Martha Argerich and now, Ingrid Fliter.

The 41 year old has built her reputation largely on her mastery of Chopin, and on this evidence boy does she deserve it. Roll over Rubinstein! Hats off Horovitz! Have I gone too far? Perhaps (I sometimes do), but if there’s a better living interpreter of Chopin out there I’d like to hear them. I’d really, really love to hear them!

Poised Panther-like for most of the long orchestral introduction to Chopin’s Piano Concerto no.1 (actually the second he wrote but it was published first), only a slight shuffle and a wipe of the hands betrayed a degree of nervous intention. And it was with a feline economy of movement that she attacked. Feline economy, precision and focused aggression, but also warmth, clarity and a scarcely credible lyricism in the upper register.

The composer meant the slow second movement to “convey the experience when the eye rests on a beloved landscape, which evokes beautiful memories in one’s soul”. In her hands it seemed sadder than that, maybe the landscape had been spoilt with wind-farms, maybe they paved paradise and put a parking lot.

The third movement includes elements of a krakowiak (a dance form native to Krakow). Chopin wrote it as a farewell to his native land which he was shortly to leave behind forever, and that hint of nationalism may have produced a febrile effect at its Warsaw premiere in October 1830. It is not unreasonable to surmise that some of those in the audience were already involved in plotting the uprising against Russian rule which was to erupt just a few weeks later, and was to cost upwards of 40,000 Polish dead and wounded and the last vestiges of autonomy the ancient kingdom still enjoyed.

Sandwiching the fabulous Fliter we had an exquisitely graceful Scottish Chamber Orchestra rendition of Stravinsky’s luscious (and not at all Stravinsky-like) orchestration of Chopin’s A-flat Nocturne, notable as the first of the Russian’s fruitful collaborations (Firebird, Petrushka and the Rite of Spring) with the impresario Diaghilev, and Mendelssohn’s Italian Symphony, taken at an exhilarating pace by guest conductor Jun Maerkl.

Ingrid Fliter’s recordings of the two Chopin concertos with Maerkl and the SCO are available on Linn Records, and the SCO are available Thursday next at the Queen’s Hall for Barber’s Violin Concerto with Joseph Swensen as conductor and soloist, and next month with Swedish Soprano Lisa Larsson for a UK premiere of Martinsson’s Garden of Devotion, and (mouth wateringly) back at the Usher Hall for Haydn’s vocal masterpiece the Creation with Harry Christopher’s (of the Sixteen) conducting.

Reviewer : Tam Heinitz

Mark Olson / Monica Queen

CCA, Glasgow

23rd April

iphone pics 23042015 121

The Fallen Angels Club at CCA was host to a double bill of Scotland’s Monica Queen and American Mark Olson.

Monica Queen kicked off proceedings with a short but very sweet set accompanied by long time musical partner Johnny Smillie, both on acoustic guitar and vocals.

Starting off with the aptly titled “In The Dark” the set progressed through from the heartfelt “Words That Take The Weight” to the closer “When It’s Time To Go.” “One Room House” was particularly affecting with Johnny Smillie providing great harmonies and tasteful lead guitar.

Monica Queens voice has been compared to Emmylou Harris’ but, to my mind, she harks back to earlier artists such as Patsy Cline but without the schmaltz.

Her self-penned country ballads can hold there own against anything you’ll hear from Emmylou Harris or Nanci Griffith.Unfortunately Monica Queen has not gone on to greater things after a long stint with 90’s band Thrum and a long critically acclaimed solo career.

Mark Olson’s main claim to fame is the fact that he was one half, with Gary Louris, of the songwriting team behind ground-breaking Americana band The Jayhawks, however his solo set at CCA showed a more reflective and folky side to his songwriting.

Playing mainly a strummed Strat and occasional dulcimer he was accompanied on harmony vocals, djembe and keyboard by Norwegian wife Ingunn Ringwold. He ran through a 1hour 20 minute set with numbers from The Jayhawks (“Blue”, “Over My Shoulder”), material from new album Goodbye Liselle and from past outings with previous project The Original Harmony Ridge Creekdippers.

Opening number “The Pacific Coast Rambler” was typical of most of the following material, which was much folkier than his Jayhawks tunes. Particular standouts of the set were an impassioned “A Poison Oleander”, “Clifton Bridge” and the encore “All These Games.”

It was obvious that the duo were a tad weary at the beginning of their show and by Olson’s own admission were drained by being on a long European tour. Between numbers some of his observations were rather rambling and eccentric, however as the night wore on they gained in energy to the benefit of the music.

Not a classic performance but interesting nonetheless from a very individual performer.

Reviewer : Dave Ivens



Sunday 20th of April

Eden Court, Inverness


Daimh are a Celtic band that has been on the scene for 17 years. They have been through several line ups, as well as the regular members Angus MacKenzie (pipes/whistle), Gabe McVarish (fiddle) and Ross Martin (guitar)this performance included two newer members of the band; Murdo Cameron: (Mandola/Mandolin/Accordion) and 21 year old Ellen MacDonald (Vocals) .

Opening with a set of three original jigs the band then brought on Ellen who sang the first of 3 songs about a farmer who had turned to drink about. Ellen sang all her songs in Gaelic but I would not let this put off anyone who does not speak the language off’ as her singing is beautiful without understanding the words. The music was extremely well performed and all the musicians showed their talent in changing from one instrument to another with no drop in ability. The original music is of a very high quality and will no doubt be part of the continuing traditional scene long into the future.

When they performed music without lyrics the music was generally more up tempo giving almost two separate performances, but at the end Ellen sang Mouth music (Puirt-à-beul) showing that she could also do happier tunes.  Overall it was a thoroughly good night; my only criticism was that there was no place to dance.

image (1)

If you have never experienced Celtic music before I would recommend being introduced through Daimh, and if you have and enjoy it these are some of the best performers around. They are on Tour In Mull, Skye Uist and Ireland before playing at UNIVERSITY OF ABERDEEN MAY FESTIVAL , on the 29th of May at The Lemon Tree .

Reviewer : Stewart Tonkin

Mozart And The Horn : Scottish Chamber Orchestra.

City Halls Glasgow.
Queens Hall, Edinburgh
I met my musical companion of the night at Waverly Train Station, Princes St entrance. Foxycat Nina arrived on time. We both decided that £23.50 day return to Glasgow was way too expensive, so we made haste to St Andrews Bus Station and got a bus. £7.50 return if bought from the kiosk in the bus Station. if you get a ticket on the bus its £11.90 return. How mental is that! I was praying that the traffic was nae gonna be chocka. So was huffing and puffing when we hit a hold up at the airport. But we soon moved and the coach happily spead along the M8 only to hit gridlock 3 miles from our destination. So started huffin and puffing again because I absolutely could not be late.The bus got into the bus station bang on 7pm. So we had 30 minuets to get to our venue. I breathed a sigh of relief and we skipped to the city Halls. Mozart was waiting. We arrived in good time, Good Time! Picked up our tickets having time to have an Orange Juice, Nina had Wine.
This is the second time I have had the delight to enjoy a performance by The Scottish Chamber Orchestra, this year. So I knew that this was going to be an outstanding show of musical integrity. The City Halls is a lovely venue, all white and lush and the acoustics a delight. My musical companion and I had brilliant seats and a brilliant vantage point from which to witness such elegance. The Orchestra is a collection of strings, oboe, a brass section, three massive drums were warming and tuning up,there was a growing excitement, a real buzz, hmmmmmm a very beautiful musical experience was beginning to unfold.
Onto the stage our conductor of the evening, Richard Egar walked commanding his chamber orchestra to attention. closely followed by the natural horn player, Alan Frank Gemmill, Frank gave us lesson into the music that was about to be performed. Explaining that The Horn that Mozart wrote the music for and first tune of the evening, Only had one tone,and didn’t have any pressy things to alter the notes.The First half a collection of pieces . I was captivated and it was all really nice it was a lovely performance. The Horn was the center of attention. The more classical music I see the more I understand it. Until recently divine had always been a contemporary kind of girl. So at each classical music performance I see,a new insight is gained. Tonights insight was that each instrument is given the center of attention. giving voice to the master that composed it In a sense, reproducing the moment from when it was written leaving a musical collage that has an ever unfolding mystery. Mozart was speaking.
In the interval, Nina went up for another wine but I stayed put and gave myself a 15 minute education into Mozart, What a Dude, Writing and conducting his first opera at 14, he moved to Vienna in his mid forties, establishing a cheese shop just in case his teeth felt out and for a horn player, once your teeth go your career as a horn player is compromised. Hmm How interesting it was. It was the second half of the performance that really took me, pulled me in straight away, a different spirit was flowing and The Chamber Orchestra had a rock chemistry that was absent in the first half. New members had joined the orchestra; it was magical and the tonights instrument in the spotlight. The Horn. Mozart had me, speaking through his music bringing me alive, enriching, inspiring and a totally brilliant captivating performance, that left me feeling deep and meditative. Just like good music should do. It moved me baby! Rock Me Amadeus! Reviewer : Mark ‘Divine’ Calvert
The Scottish Chamber Orchestra was introduced by the conductor, Richard Egarr.
It was surprisingly laid back for what I know of prestigious orchestras.  A short historical explanation was given, informative for classical music novices and experts alike.   As the Symphony No. 1 in C began it was one of those musical experiences you have where you can feel every single one of your hairs standing on end. The natural horn, I learned, was how Mozart originally wanted these symphonies to be played but they rarely are and this was one of these rare opportunities. An older chap at the break outside said the only  time he has had heard it played on the natural horn was on a CD being played by Denis Brain in 1953.
Being a novice I hadn’t realized what a rare opportunity this was. Alec Frank-Gemmill  plays the horn tonight and he explained that Mozart was a rebellious composer and the use of this instrument clarifies this and indeed its sound is very different from that of the french horn.  It has no valves so it is purely breath an the use of one hand inside the horn that determine the notes.  I liked it and was glad its rebellious nature was explained.  All the people we met were friendly and a few people had commented how great it was that there were some young people at a performance such as  this and looking around the youngest person in house apart from us was sitting next to us a young girl out with her family how could barely stop herself from drumming out the tune  with an imagined horn in her hand.  Particularly when the the final piece by Beethoven was played.
It was clear that those that have an ear for this kind of music are deeply passionate about it indeed.  The relaxed atmosphere of the queens meant  that the concert had a down to earth appeal when I had been expecting it to be a lot more formal.
Reviewer : Sarah Marshall

Mike and the Mechanics – The Hits Tour

Festival Theatre, Edinburgh
 Sunday April 12th
Mike and the Mechanics rolled into town on Sunday night for the Edinburgh leg of their ‘The Hits Tour’. The group has an ever-changing rosta of musicians and the one constant is Mike himself – Mike Rutherford founder member of Genesis and bass player for that legendary band. For this tour Mike has a clutch of journeymen musicians who are all fine players and the jewel in his current crown is Andrew Roachford, the frontman of the once very popular Roachford and a marvellous singer and keyboard player in his own right. The gig did what it said on the tin – all the hits were played and indeed played very well in the magnificent Festival Theatre. The band warmed up with a run through of many the Mechanics hits including ‘Another Cup of Coffee’, ‘A Beggar on a Beach of Gold’ and ‘Word of Mouth’. A new number yet to be recorded entitled ‘Let me Fly’ was a real highlight – watch out for this song. The Genesis legacy (although the post Gabriel mainstream era) was acknowledged with ‘I Can’t Dance’ and ‘Turn it on Again’ getting an airing. The mid section of the concert saw a sort of ‘unplugged’ mini set being essayed with the mood warm and welcoming – see pic. The band then stepped up the tempo again and as they motored towards the climax a real funky version of the top 10 Roachford hit ‘Cuddly Toy’ saw the elderly audience becoming fully engaged – although in truth the fans had been fully behind the Mechanics from note one. The penultimate offering was a beautiful, eerie and atmospheric version of ‘In the Living Years’ with Andrew Roachford doing a great job on lead vocals and the final song was the big number ‘All I need is Miracle’. The band’s encore was ‘Over My Shoulder’ / ‘Word of Mouth’ played with great gusto and rapturously received.
So, a great night out for fans of middle-of-the-road adult orientated rock. No nasty surprises, nothing edgy or challenging and the sound mix was perfect, perhaps the best I have ever heard in a concert hall. Mike seems like a thoroughly nice bloke and looks good in his white shirt and specially-for-the-occasion tartan trousers. The sort of performance that would not be out of place at a wedding gig. The last time I saw I saw Mike Rutherford live on stage was in 1974 as part of the Genesis Lamb Lies Down on Broadway tour with Peter Gabriel going through the ringer out front. That was edgy and I did feel challenged that night. Still, I suppose we all grow old.
Reviewer: Chris Donkin

Dominic Kirwan and Mary Duff – Together in Concert

Eden Court Theatre, Inverness



Dominic and Mary, right from the first beat had the audience engaged, the clapping had began, and the toes were a tapping! Dominic looking dapper in his suit and Mary in a sparkly number, both floating across the stage with confidence and ease. Dominic stated that although he had gigged in Eden Court many times over the last 25 years, as had Mary, It was their first time together in Inverness. (Mary normally pairing up with Daniel O’Donnell.)

Singing a few tracks from his new album entitled “25 years to be continued”, welcomed warmly by the crowd was his track “Crazy” which was a slower paced song, that I could envisage being used in a movie or musical. Every performance from Dominic was extremely slick, a bit too much microphone throwing for my person liking, however the mostly older crowd appearing to appreciate his swagger, with cheers and whistling a plenty!

Mary in turn then had her chance to shine, A fabulous Irish country and folk singer, wooing the audience with “Beautiful County of Mine” reminding her of back home in Meath, Ireland. Mary was then reminiscing about her previous stays in Inverness, funny tales involving alcohol. She also sang a version of her idol Patsy Cline, which was truly wonderful. Mary interacting gracefully with the audience, encouraging neighbours to link arms and sway along, which everyone seemed more than happy to oblige.

Both very talented musicians, already at the top of their entertainment ladder, they certainly provided a night of top-notch Irish entertainment. A special mention simply must go out to the gifted 5 piece band, especially the violinist with excellent trills, who also expertly played the banjo, guitar and percussion. A very impressive merchandise stall, saw folk battling to grab that perfect souvenir of their night, I think Dominic and Mary still have lots of success ahead of them, and will continue to sell out theatres for a long time to come.

Reviewer : Anna Macleod

Ruarri Joseph and Polly Barrett

Eden Court Inverness

Saturday 4th April


An enjoyable evening of well written, effortlessly performed songs by two talented musicians. Polly Bartrett started the performance with a selection of mostly melancholy songs (which she pointed out and joked about) but with her beautiful voice made the experience not sad but relaxing. Her most notable song was Anachie Gordon a beautiful Celtic ditty which captivated the audience.

Ruarri Joseph gave an impressive performance playing many songs spanning his musical career. He demonstrated his obvious talent in a varied range of songs including the upbeat “Patience”, (which had been requested by a fan) to the thoughtful “Brother” and the rail against the fickleness of the music industry “Faithless Few”. He also rocked the harmonica! Throughout the evening both artists interacted with the audience and there was a very positive vibe through the night.

Would recommend going to see Ruarri and Polly live, they are very talented musicians. They are next playing for the good people of Aviemore at the Old Bridge Inn on Wednesday 8th of April at 8.30 pm.

Reviewer : Lucy Tonkin