May 252017
 

By Ian Baird.

Every time a report is written about the Harbour Board’s expansion plans into the Bay of Nigg, there is invariably a reference to a Scottish Enterprise report which justified the project in economic terms, along the lines of, ‘An independent study, commissioned by Scottish Enterprise, estimates that the development will generate an additional £1 billion per annum to the economy by 2035 and will create an additional 7,000 equivalent jobs.’
But that Report was written in December 2013, three and a half years ago and therefore pre-dating the current prolonged oil downturn.

Before finally committing to the project in December when a contract was agreed with Dragados, surely in the light of what is acknowledged to be a significantly changed trading environment, the assumptions and projections made in the Biggar Report should have been reviewed?

Had this been done with any vigour, it is difficult not to come to the conclusion that the business case for £350+ million development no longer stands up to scrutiny and proceeding with the development on that basis cannot be justified.

Let’s look at some aspects of the Report from the perspective of 2017.

1) Harbour Capacity: One of the most compelling arguments emanating from the Harbour Board as justification for the expansion was that the harbour was working at or near full capacity. The argument was echoed in the Report which stated:

“It is clear additional capacity is required to retain activity in the oil and gas sector in Scotland.  If this capacity is not developed, then there is a risk that new and existing demand will be lost to Norway. Capacity constraints at the Harbour are also likely to hinder existing and potential users from developing new market opportunities in areas such as renewable energy, decommissioning, passenger ferries and cruise liners.”

As the construction of the expansion begins, is the existing harbour still running at or near full capacity? The Report noted that arrivals to the port in 2012 numbered in excess of 8,100. Based on the Board’s statements we have to assume this figure is close to maximum capacity. By 2014 arrivals were very similar at 7,937, but in 2015 they dropped to 7,428 and then precipitously to 6,462 in 2016 (unpublished).

That’s more than a 20% drop in traffic activity from the 2012 high to 2016. In short, the harbour is no longer working at or near to full capacity. Of course, had the arrivals levelled off at around the 8,000 mark, it could be legitimately argued that capacity issues were inhibiting expansion but with a 20% drop in activity it is clear that this is quite simply a downturn in business.

To update, the first 4 months of 2017 are no better than the equivalent period last year; and so just as the heavy plant moves in to the Bay, annual arrivals are around 1600 fewer per year than when ‘at or near maximum capacity’.

When challenged about declining arrivals at the 2016 AGM, Chief Executive Colin Parker argued lost business because of larger vessels being unable to enter the harbour were the main cause of the decline. This seems a curious statement given that vessels as large as 20,000 tonnes have used the harbour and yet the average gross tonnage is only about 4,000 tonnes. Two of the largest ships using the harbour are the passenger ferries plying to the Orkney and Shetland Isles. They each have a gross tonnage of 11, 720.

How many arrivals were there of vessels with a gross tonnage of over 10,000 tonnes, other than the ferries, using the port in a year? In 2015, only 21 out of 7,428, or .002%; in 2016, ever fewer at 11. Apart from the ferries, the upper 50% of the tonnage capacity range (10,000 to 20,000 tonnes) is virtually unused.

Where is the evidence that lack of size capacity is inhibiting business?

Fig. 1: The Harbour Board claims the existing harbour is too small for larger vessels. This graph shows that, apart from passenger and freight ferries running to the Northern Isles, the upper end of the tonnage capacity range from 7000 tonnes upward is barely utilised by oil-related, cargo or other vessels.

2) The new market opportunities identified in the Reportrenewable energy, decommissioning, passenger ferries and cruise liners – are central in the projections of increasing traffic to the expanded facility. How well does potential success in these markets stand up to scrutiny from today’s perspective? Let us look at each in turn:

Renewable Energy: Despite initial enthusiasm for chasing business in this market, the Harbour Board has been very quiet about prospects in this sector since the Report’s publication.

There has probably been a belated recognition that weaknesses in the local infrastructure (inadequate roads network for heavy and wide loads, lack of fabrication facilities) and being close to neither centres of turbine and blade manufacture nor to the offshore areas identified as potential for offshore wind arrays, means that there are no specific advantages, and several disadvantages, for suppliers of renewable energy components considering using Aberdeen as a transport base.

Biggar suggests a need for creating industry clusters around key infrastructure investment locations, and that one such cluster should incorporate the supply chain for offshore renewables by developing the land beside Nigg Bay as a marine renewable cluster in Aberdeen City and Shire.

Fine words, but despite the fact that construction of the harbour expansion is under way, there seems little action towards this suggested initiative and there seems inadequate land available to develop a suitably well-equipped cluster as proposed.

Decommissioning: Although the total decommissioning market is huge, Aberdeen’s potential to handle significant elements of it will again be limited by onshore infrastructural weaknesses and by the lack of deep-water berthing. Since the Report was published, many other ports in Scotland, North-east England and Norway have signalled their determination to secure a share of the decommissioning market.

Many, such as Dundee, Cromarty, Kirkwall and Scapa Flow are already well ahead in extending infrastructure and capacity. In what will be a highly competitive scramble for work, it is difficult to see Aberdeen, coming late into the game with improved facilities in 2020, attracting any more than relatively minor contracts.

Ferries: Apart from its inclusion in the Report as one of the potential markets for the expanded court, no evidence or research is offered to substantiate the sector as a potential market. The Northern Isles are the only destinations with a regular ferry service to Aberdeen. The existing ferries are large and, although running near to full capacity at peak holiday periods, for much of the year they are running well below.

At current passenger and freight usage levels, larger ferries plying those routes would not be cost-effective. NorthLink have not identified any need, nor expressed any interest, in introducing larger ferries to Kirkwall and Lerwick.

Cruise Ships: The Report predicts that up to 40 cruise ships could be attracted to the new harbour each year but there are quite a number of qualifications to that figure:

“If a new harbour is built and [if] improvements are made to surrounding roads infrastructure then this may make the harbour a more attractive destination for visiting ships. For example road improvements may make it easier for coaches to access to the quayside, which would make it easier for cruise companies to organise excursions for passengers. The additional space may even make it possible to create dedicated visitor reception facilities. [My emphasis]”

The projection of 40 cruise ships per annum is therefore very speculative. While it is true that the average size of cruise ships is rising, ruling out many of them from the opportunity of docking in the existing harbour, it does not follow that a sufficiently large harbour will attract those larger ships. A bigger swimming pool doesn’t necessarily mean more (or larger) swimmers, perhaps just more space per swimmer.

If we compare the new harbour with, for example, Shetland’s port at Lerwick, which is projected to attract 80 cruise ships in 2018, there must be some doubt about its attractiveness as a destination, requiring as it will a bus journey with views (and possibly smells) of a sewage works, possibly an incinerator, Altens industrial estate and a complex onward route to get to either Aberdeen city centre or to Deeside.

In fact, all of the Report’s projections of future economic gains are qualified by the recognition that for their predictions to be realised it would be necessary ‘to upgrade the roads infrastructure in the surrounding area’.

We are now embarking on a £350 million development, not only in the absence of any such planned upgrade, but with the economics of the North Sea oil industry considerably changed for the worse, and with technological changes and innovations which lessen Aberdeen’s ability to attract certain kinds of business (for example the commissioning of the Pioneering Spirit vessel which can lift and transport complete platform topsides of up to 48,000 tonnes to a limited number of deep-water berths).

There is no doubt that on the completion of the new harbour, some additional types and sizes of vessels will visit the port.

The question is: will they do so in sufficient numbers and frequency to justify a £360 million investment and the permanent loss of a valuable amenity to the local community?

To fulfil the expectations of the Biggar Report, harbour activity not only has to regain the current 20% loss of traffic but has to utilise to near capacity the additional 25% berthing the expansion will enable. That’s 45% above current activity.

Given that the mainstay of the harbour is oil-related business and that it is not contested that it is an industry in decline, there must be a huge question mark over the prediction that in Year 20 of the Report’s projections the net economic impact of Aberdeen Harbour in the City and Shire will be 12,350 jobs and £1.8 billion GVA (Gross Value Added).

The questions are these therefore. What re-evaluation of the Biggar Report was undertaken prior to the final decision to proceed with the expansion into the Bay of Nigg? Is anyone from the Harbour Board, Biggar Economics or Scottish Enterprise prepared to stand by the projections in the 2013 Report? If not, on what basis is the project proceeding?

Sources: Economic impact of Aberdeen Harbour Nigg Bay Development – A final report to Scottish Enterprise, Biggar Economics, December 2013

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May 242017
 

Review and Photographs by Dod Morrison.

Iron Maiden were formed in 1975 by bassist and songwriter Steve Harris.

They’ve released 38 albums including 16 studio albums, 11 live albums, 4 EPs, and 7 compilations – probably making them the world’s most famous heavy metal band.

The band were returning to Aberdeen after a five year gap as part of their ‘The Book Of Souls’ tour.

Released in 2015, this was the band’s sixteenth studio album as well as their first double studio album and at 92 minutes, their longest to date. It also contained the band’s longest track, ‘Empire of the Clouds’ at a staggering 18 minutes.

The album was actually recorded in 2014 but the launch was delayed to allow Bruce to recover from the removal of a cancerous tumour on his tongue.

The album was a commercial success reaching number 1 in 24 countries. They started the tour in February 2016 and it will go through until July 2017.

When Iron Maiden come to town it’s not just to play a gig, it’s an EVENT!

They are known for  their extravagant stage shows which usually feature a huge Eddie The Head (the band mascot). Eddie is a perennial part of Maiden, appearing on all the covers of their albums, and he appears in the live shows in various guises.

Unfortunately, a pending dispute about ‘Hallowed Be Thy Name’ song credits means that the fan’s favourite song (and my own favourite) had been removed from the current The Book Of Souls tour set list.

The Book Of Souls tour came to Aberdeen where the faithful filled the AECC and prepared to worship. The stage was made to look like an Inca style lost city. A half rectangle shaped wall surrounded and contained the stage with several braziers along its length and moving backdrops, flanked by pyramids on either side.

After a rousing version of ‘Doctor, Doctor’ by UFO was played to get the crowd going, the set commenced with Bruce Dickinson standing on the wall above and behind the drum kit.

Bruce inhaled the vapours from a cauldron on a pedestal as the first chapter of Book of Souls plays.

He then launched into a magnificent, energetic rendition of ‘If Eternity Should Fail’.

Flames erupted from the braziers along the city walls as Bruce dashed across them from side to side. Beneath him Nicko McBrain was drumming up a storm on his impressive and very shiny drum kit.

In front of him guitarists Janick Gers, Dave Murray and Adrian Smith covered the stage, adopting the usual foot on monitor poses.

Janick used the furthest forward set of speakers as a seat, and also enjoyed giving it the odd kick just to show it who’s boss.

Of course, amid all of this, the iconic figure of Steve Harris strode across the stage brandishing his bass.

As the set progressed the huge backdrops behind the band changed to reflect each new song.

Bruce also changed costumes to suit the songs.

At one point he sported a gorilla mask and brandished bananas at the other band members! For ‘Power Slave’ he wore a leather mask, which must have been incredibly sweaty on the warm May night, but it didn’t slow him down at all.

He charged across the city walls above and behind the rest of the band.

As all of this unfolded before our eyes, our ears were treated to a very well chosen set list which covered the entire career of this magnificent band. They played oldies such as ‘Wrathchild’ and ‘Iron Maiden’.

During a magnificent version of ‘The Trooper’ Dickinson was clad in a red ‘Trooper’ jacket and he charged along the walls brandishing a huge Union flag.

At one point he amusingly draped it over Janick Gers as he played his guitar below. It was hard to discern how much ‘playing’ Janick actually did as he spent a lot of time throwing his guitar around on its strap, dancing with it.

We were treated to ‘Fear Of The Dark’ and then on to current masterpieces from the ‘Book of Souls’ album, including a blistering rendition of ‘Speed Of Light’ during which the crowd sang impressively along with the chorus.

It was a well chosen, well thought out set list.

You didn’t want to look away even for a second in case you missed something spectacular, such as the huge sporadic flames that erupted from the braziers along the city walls, or the massive inflatable Eddie figure that floated up from behind the set.

During ‘Book Of Souls’  a giant Eddie figure appeared on stage and ‘attacked’ the band.

Janick ran through its legs, then when Eddie tried to chop him with his axe he responded by hitting Eddie between the legs with his guitar.

Eddie then moved on to attack Dickinson who fought back and pulled out Eddie’s heart. Bruce squeezed the blood from it before throwing it into the crowd – most entertaining!!

At the end of the song Bruce said “this isn’t something you see every night, the stage on fire” – and it was! There was a flame about 2 feet high burning up on the top of the set! The band carried on regardless whilst the fire was put out.

The main set finished with ‘Iron Maiden’ before an encore of ‘Number Of The Beast’ (which involved the appearance of a huge inflatable Satan figure), ‘Wasted Years’ and ‘Blood Brothers’.

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May 182017
 

By Craig Chisholm.

Inverness based promoter Stephen Robertson is slowly but surely making a name for himself in the world of music promotion.

Over the past year he has put on big names such as Motown star Martha Reeves, The Bad Shepherds, who feature comedian Adrian Edmonston, dub and reggae legend Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry, Manchester indie stalwarts The Fall, Radio 6 DJ Craig Charles with his popular Funk and Soul Club and former PIL bassist Jah Wobble, with his band Invaders of The Heart, among others.

Though based up North he has put a formidable line up of talented acts on in Aberdeen venues such as Café Drummond, The Tunnels and The Lemon Tree.

He’s also been racking up the miles to promote gigs in Dundee, Edinburgh and Glasgow.

Stephen started back in the promotion business back 2006 when he started booking acts for several venues in Inverness. In 2014 he started TwentyTen and took things a step further, booking bands in Aberdeen and not just in the Highlands.

As well as established names he has also put on shows by up and coming bands such as Teleman, Fatherson, Bloodlines and Vokovi – all of whom are destined for bigger things.

Upcoming TwentyTen gigs in Aberdeen include an appearance by critically acclaimed influential New York band Swans and a rare intimate acoustic gig by The Rifles.

Coming up in Aberdeen –

  • May 18th – The Rifles (Unplugged) – The Tunnels
  • May 19th – Swans – The Lemon Tree
  • May 21st – Matt Anderson – The Tunnels
  • May 22nd – Natives – The Tunnels
  • June 3rd – Popes of Chillitown – Café Drummond

Tickets are available to these gigs – as well as others in Inverness, Glasgow Dundee and Edinburgh from – https://www.fatsoma.com/twentyten

Facebook –  https://www.facebook.com/TwentyTenEvents/
Twitter – https://twitter.com/2010Management?lang=en

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May 182017
 

Craig Chisholm reviews Maximo Park and Pins at The Lemon Tree. Photos by Craig Chisholm.

Maximo Park’s new songs go down well with the crowd, despite only having a week or so to familiarise themselves with the material

It takes Maximo Park singer Paul Smith precisely one song before he needs to remove his jacket due to the heat inside the Lemon Tree as his band perform in front of another sold out crowd.

The amiable front man still cuts a dapper swagger even in his less formal shirt and is in talkative mood as he commands the crowd and engages them with his warm banter and boundless energy.

The Geordie band may not be at their commercial peak anymore but latest album ‘Risk to Exist’ still managed to crack the album charts at a very respectable position of 11 and it’s obvious that they still have a devoted and loyal fan base – Smith even noting that Aberdeen is “as far north as we can come before people stop coming to see us”

The set is, understandably, weighted heavily in favour of their latest opus with a good third of the set list plucked from it. The big hits are all there though – ‘Apply Some Pressure’, ‘Books Over Boxes’, ‘Going Missing’ and their biggest UK hit ‘Our Velocity’, which made the Top 10 a decade ago.

Before ‘Questing, not Coasting’ Smith self depreciatingly introduces it as coming from their “Dead and buried third album [Quicken the Heart]”.

And it’s that sort of modest humour that makes him such an engaging and likeable frontman.

Before ‘Going Missing’, he speaks about the time the band first played The Lemon Tree, supporting Bloc Party, and how they were given a pre-gig meal of chili from the venue –  before joking that they never got any this time.

He also displays a bit of affection to the city itself – asking if the locals call it “The ‘Deen”, speaking of his trip to the Belmont Cinema the previous night. He comments on the architecture and the granite structures in the city centre – “So much Granite….. you should think of a nickname to do with that” he quips.

New songs go down well with the crowd, despite only having a week or so to familiarise themselves with the material.

What Equals Love?’ is arguably the poppiest song they’ve ever done, opening number, ‘Risk to Exist’ grooves along whilst putting across a political message and ‘What Did We Do to You to Deserve This?’ has late a 70s Nile Rogers guitar funk to it.

Opening the night are Manchester five piece Pins.

It’s a lazy comparison but, being all female, it’s hard not to compare them to other all female bands such as Warpaint, Babes in Toyland and, especially, Sleater-Kinney in both sound and looks.
But once that lazy comparison is out of the way there’s a lot more to see and hear in the band.

Their look and sound is the sound of punk and post-punk Manchester – The Buzzcocks, Joy Division – before it funked up and spaced out with Baggy in the late 80s.

It’s the look and sound of shade wearing Brooklyn indie bands, influenced by CBGBs and Bowery punk of the mid-70s.

And it works – it sounds, and they look, amazing.

Frontwoman Faith Holgate is confident and driven and especially bonds on-stage with the frantic energy of guitarist Lois MacDonald whilst the rest of the band provide a solid and dependable groove for them to paint their sounds over.
From the moment that Pins hit the stage till the moment that Maximo Park depart it nearly two and a half hours later to be a good night for the paying punters and should either band return they will no doubt be received with the same aplomb as they were tonight.

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May 122017
 

With thanks to Ian McLaren, PR account manager, Innes Associates.

Aberdeenshire’s Lonach Highlanders are set to make a mark as they debut at this year’s Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo.

Seventy-five of Strathdon’s kilted clansmen will travel to the capital in August to be part of the iconic annual spectacle as it celebrates Scotland’s clans.

The men have been invited to be part of the performance on Monday, 14 August by Lord Forbes, chief of the Forbes clan.

In front of an audience of around 8,500 people, including many international visitors, the highlanders will parade onto Edinburgh Castle’s Esplanade to herald the start of the evening’s performance. Dressed in full highland regalia and armed with their traditional eight-foot long pikes, the men will create an imposing sight for the gathered crowd.

With a history stretching back to 1823 when the Lonach Highland and Friendly Society was formed, the Lonach Highlanders are believed to be the largest body of non-military men to carry ceremonial weapons in Britain. Membership is drawn from residents of the local area who descend from the Forbes, Wallace and Gordon clans. Society membership currently stands at 227 men, under the patronage of Sir James Forbes, 8th Baronet of Newe and Edinglassie.

The theme of this year’s Tattoo is a Splash of Tartan, something that the Lonach Highlanders will admirably provide. To mark Scotland’s Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology, Tattoo organisers have teamed up with The Standing Council of Scottish Chiefs to celebrate the country’s clan heritage and national fabric, and their influence around the world.

Two or three clans will be represented at each performance during the Tattoo’s three-week run. On the night of the Lonach Highlander’s attendance, both the Forbes and Wallace clans will muster on the castle esplanade and their Scottish ancestry celebrated.

This is a fantastic opportunity for the society and the highlanders to help promote our history and heritage

The highlanders’ trip to Edinburgh comes just 12 days before their own annual gathering takes place in Bellabeg, Aberdeenshire.

Attracting crowds of up to 10,000 people, the Lonach Highland Gathering and Games is one of north-east Scotland’s leading traditional highland games.

This year’s event on Saturday, 26 August marks the 176th time the gathering has been held. It will once again commence with the Lonach Highlanders embarking on six-mile march round the local area, following in the footsteps of their forefathers and continuing a near two-hundred year-old tradition.

Jennifer Stewart, secretary and chief executive of the Lonach Highland and Friendly Society, said:

“The Lonach Highland and Friendly Society is honoured to have been invited to participate in this year’s Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo. This is the first time that the Lonach Highlanders have been present at the event and there is huge excitement amongst those taking part.

“This is a fantastic opportunity for the society and the highlanders to help promote our history and heritage, the Lonach Gathering, Aberdeenshire and highland games in general. Television recording will be taking place on the night that we are parading. If we make the director’s cut then there is potential for millions of people around the world to learn about Lonach.

“Attending the Tattoo will be a great warm up for the 176th Lonach Highland Gathering and Games just 12 days later on Saturday, 26 August. If you think the sight of 75 Lonach Highlanders marching is special, the sight and sound of 200 of them, pikes aloft, marching through picturesque Strathdon is one to behold, and not to be missed.”

Ringside seat tickets for the 176th Lonach Highland Gathering and Games are on sale now, priced from £12 for adults and £7 for children. Visit www.lonach.org for full details.

Established in 1823, by Sir Charles Forbes, 1st Baronet of Newe and Edinglassie, the Lonach Highland and Friendly Society is a charitable organisation based in Strathdon, Aberdeenshire. The society organises the annual Lonach Gathering at Bellabeg Park, Strathdon, which is held on the fourth Saturday of August.

The main attraction at the gathering is the march of the Lonach Highlanders, a unique body of non-military men. Further information on the Lonach Highland and Friendly Society, the Lonach Highlanders and the annual Lonach Highland Gathering can be found at www.lonach.org.

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May 122017
 

With thanks to Aberdeen Community Energy (ACE).

Donside Hydro is a community built hydro scheme, on the river Don adjacent to the site of Donside Papermill, where there is now an urban village.
It is Scotland’s first urban community hydro scheme (most others are situated in isolated parts of the
country).

In 2013 Local residents formed a resident’s association, now called Donside Village Community SCIO (DVC), and from this association, ACEnergy (a not for profit, community benefit society) was formed.

For anyone interested in visiting Scotland’s first Urban Community Hydro Scheme, a tour is being conducted on Thursday May 18 ( details below).

ACEnergy (whose 5 directors all live in the village and are members of the DVC, bar one) went on to create the £1.2 million Donside Hydro Scheme, which has been successfully funded through share and bond offers.

The scheme has won a number of awards since operations began last September, including the best Community Project at the Scottish Green Energy awards in December.

Whilst the turbine is fully operational, and we have been producing electricity since 21st Sept 2016 and are meeting all projected targets, the landscaping is ongoing and there is still a bit of work to be done. We have just finished planting over 500 trees on our newly created island and further landscaping will take place over the next year. This will include the building of a bridge across to the island, and ensuring that as much of the area as possible is wheelchair accessible.

Profits from the scheme will be given to the share holders and bond holders, who have helped to finance the scheme, but a percentage of the profits will be returned to the community association, and this will be used to further develop the area and create a lovely public amenity for all who come to this part of the Don. However, this will not happen until the first full year of production at the earliest.

The DVC is working with the Scottish Government’s Scottish Land Fund to purchase the land surrounding the Donside Hydro. The aim is deliver a park for locals and visitors of all ages to play, explore, recreate and educate.

We are at stage 2 of our application and it is progressing well. However, the Scottish Land Fund are unable to fully finance any land purchases and can only give us 90% of the value of the land. We are not yet in a position to access any funds from the electricity production, as stated above, so this means we will have to find the remaining monies ourselves.

We are currently fund raising at every opportunity to raise the necessary cash (e.g. all profits from our Spring Fayre has gone toward the land purchase, people from the village are running the 10k to raise money etc).

We are also seeking alternative ways of funding and have started to charge for seminars and tours, where it is reasonable to do so, whilst keeping in mind our desire to make the hydro as accessible as possible to all. Therefore we are asking groups who ‘have a budget’ to make a set fee. For those that do not we are asking individuals who attend to make a donation in order for us to be able to purchase the land and develop it for all.

The bottom line is, we want people to be able to come and see the hydro and hear our story. We do not want money to be a prohibitive factor, but we want to be able to purchase the land!

We look forward to seeing you soon……

Visit the first Urban Community Hydro Scheme!

On Thursday 18th May at 7pm please join Aberdeenshire Environmental Forum on their visit to the first urban community hydro scheme which is a 100Kw Archimedes screw by the banks of the River Don by Tillydrone, Aberdeen. Come and find out how this scheme works and environmental issues that need to considered in such schemes.

The visit is free but donations to the scheme are most welcome.

Please book a place on this tour by telephoning or texting 07799658209 as limited spaces and to organise lift sharing opportunities.

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May 052017
 

David Innes reviews Craiginches – Life In Aberdeen’s Prison.

If you assume that any book about life in prison, even on the non-felon side of the bars, will tell horror stories of desperate bad-to-the-bone incarcerated people, and of the means used to control them, Bryan Glennie’s memoirs of his long career as a prison officer may come as a surprise.
Although Glennie never loses sight of the fact that prison, its inmates, and its culture can be brutal, and that dangerous situations can arise in the most innocuous circumstances, Craiginches concentrates on the more positive aspects, and rehabilitative opportunities offered to those serving sentences.

Of course, our own former Butlins-By-The-Dee never housed the most dangerous and desperate of miscreants housed in institutions like Peterhead, and the brutality and simmering tensions of such jails are only touched upon briefly when the author is a first-hand witness to the aftermath of a riot in the Blue Toon’s grim Victorian penitentiary.

Rather, Craiginches reveals Glennie’s own admirable belief that the primary purpose of prison is rehabilitation of offenders, and that if such second chances have the dual benefit of improving the communities in which prisons are located, there are no losers.

Thus, the reader will learn of the hard graft and dedication invested by prisoners and staff alike in charitable and community projects in Aberdeen and further afield in the city’s hinterland. The author’s enthusiasm for these, and his staunch belief in such projects’ contribution to prisoner welfare and societal re-integration is heartening.

Craiginches shows too the positive impact of initiatives designed to relieve the boredom and drudgery of cell-life, with art classes, sports events and musical entertainment among the devices employed to lighten the debilitating monotony of prison life.

There are also insights to the comradeship among those in the prison service, and of the change in culture from Officer Mackay-like mistrust and suspicion, to the more-humanised atmosphere in prison that, one hopes, prevails today. And, if the contents are occasionally just a little too homely, this is only because of the author’s admirable optimism and belief in the innate good of misguided people.

Craiginches – Life In Aberdeen’s Prison

Bryan Glennie with Scott Burns
Black & White Publishing
ISBN 978-1-78530-121-6
253 pages

£9.99

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May 052017
 

Alabama 3 perform another sell out gig at The Lemon Tree. Craig Chisholm reviews.

Many casual music fans may not know much about Alabama 3 apart from ‘Woke Up This Morning’, their theme tune to iconic TV series The Sopranos or from seeing their name on numerous festivals bills, from Rockness to Wizard and Belladrum to T in The Park, but for their die-hard fanbase they provide a near religious fervour which was evident in their performance at The Lemon Tree.

The band provided the sell-out crowd an entertaining 17 song set in support of their latest album, the minimalistically titled ‘Blues’.

But blues doesn’t even scratch the surface of the bands musical style – gospel, country, acid house, spoken word, rock and electronica are some of the genres that they touch upon over their 21 year, 12 album career.

The 9 piece band are a joy to watch in full flow. At the back of the stage, drums are handled by LB Dope, sequencing and effects by Wizard, bass and guitar by Rock Freebase, harmonica by Harpo Strangelove, and keyboards by The Spirit. It wouldn’t be a stretch to guess these are not their real names.

Stage front, vocals are handled by Larry Love, The Reverend Be Atwell and The Very Reverand Dr D Wayne Love.

The Reverand D Wayne – know to family and friends as Glaswegian Jake Burns – is less the shamanic, messianic figure of yore but more of a dapper East End villain in his look.

The long hair has gone, as have the sunglasses – replaced by a haircut more becoming to a man of his advanced years and a pair of spectacles. But he, along with lead vocalist Larry Love, still proves to be the driving force of the band, working a crowd into a euphoric frenzy with each song whilst co-vocalist Reverend Be Atwell cuts a dapper, but imposing, presence alongside them.

The set spans the bands entire career from old favourites to new tracks.

‘Hypo Full of Love’ from 1996s ‘Exile on Coldharbour Lane’ goes down a storm as the band members engage in a bit of synchronised swaying whilst newer cuts from their latest album. 

‘(I’ll Never) Be Satisfied’, ‘Rattlesnake Woman’ and ‘Nothing to Lose But Your Chains’, prove infectious enough to have a sizeable proportion of the crowd lining up at the merchandise stall to purchase it and have it signed by the band.

Their most famous song, the aforementioned ‘Woke Up This Morning’ is played of course – but such is the bands confidence and faith in their material that it’s played mid-set rather than as an encore.

After over an hour and a half on-stage the band finish up with ‘Hello…. I’m Johnny Cash’ from 2005s ‘Outlaw’ album, leaving the crowd ecstatic and happy.

If you’ve not seen – or heard – Alabama 3 before then it’s recommend you check them out the next time they are in town.

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May 052017
 

Holiday fun at Over The Wall’s Scottish Summer Camp last year.

With thanks to Esther Green, Senior Account Executive, Tricker PR

A charity which gives children and young people living with serious health challenges a holiday to help them discover a whole new world of possibilities is laying on an extra place for a deserving North-east youngster – thanks to the support of Aberdeen Asset Management’s Charities Foundation.

Gaining £1800 from the Aberdeen charities committee has enabled Over The Wall to provide an additional place at its 2017 Scotland camp for a seriously ill child living in Aberdeenshire.

The therapeutic recreation activity camp, for children aged 8-17 with serious and life limiting illnesses, takes place at Strathallan School in Perthshire in July.

Since 1999 many of the UK’s most seriously ill children have been able to go swimming, catch their first fish, dance in the sunshine, perform centre stage and create the memories of a lifetime with Over The Wall. The self-esteem and confidence of  campers sky-rockets as they learn that they are not combating childhood diseases alone.

The small national charity provides free residential activity camps for children and their families and through participation in a proven programme of fun-filled recreational and educational activities, the camps help promote inclusion whilst developing the confidence, self-esteem, coping strategies and peer relationships of all their campers.

The mum of a teenage boy who attended last year’s Scottish camp said of the experience:

“He had an amazing time, he returned more confident, happy and relaxed. For the first time he was able to enjoy activities and forget about his illness. I am a very happy Mum!”

Julie Foster, Trusts and Foundations Fundraiser for Over The Wall said:

“The camps enable the children to reach beyond their illness to rediscover a whole new world of possibilities and we rely on donations like this one from Aberdeen Asset Management, along with volunteer support,  to help us give children a week of experiences that are memorable, exciting, fun and empowering, in a physically safe and medically sound environment.”

Claire Drummond, head of charitable giving forAberdeen Asset Management said:

“Through the support of the Aberdeen Committee we are giving a local child the chance to attend camp, create memories for a lifetime and build their self-esteem and confidence at the same time. We are proud to be able to provide support in the local community in which we operate in this way.”

Aberdeen Asset Charitable Foundation was established in 2012 to formalise and develop the Group’s charitable giving globally. The Foundation seeks partnerships with smaller charities around the world, where funds can be seen to have a meaningful and measurable impact and the firm encourages its employees to use their time and skills to support its charitable projects.

The main focus of the Foundation is around emerging markets and local communities, reflecting the desire to give back to those areas which are a key strategic focus of the business and to build on the historic pattern of giving to communities in which Aberdeen employees live and work.

For more information visit http://www.aberdeen-asset.co.uk/aam.nsf/foundation/home

For full details of  Over The Wall visit http://www.otw.org.uk

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May 022017
 

Local Music Festival Returns – Promising to be Even Bigger and Better than Last Year! By Craig Chisholm.

“When it comes to Scotland’s greatest bands, Primal Scream are right up there.”

Last year’s Enjoy Music Festival had it all – a great line up, a sunny day and a crowd that loved every second of the day. With top acts such as Example & DJ Wire, Green Velvet, Former Seahorses singer Chris Helme and Dusky joining up and coming local acts such as Emerald Sunday, Ransom FA, Colin Clyne and even an appearance from the Portlethen Pipe Band it proved to be a roaring success with everyone that attended.

This year’s line is even better with headline performances from Scottish indie legends Primal Scream, a DJ set from Chase & Status, the iconic DJ John Digweed, local stars The Little Kicks, rappers Shy and DRS and premier Stone Roses tribute band The Complete Stone Roses.

A full supporting bill across 5 stages will see a mix of bands and DJs entertain patrons whilst a fun fair, family entertainment area, a Market Place and an exclusive VIP area will give people places to hang out and have fun throughout the day.

And all your food and drinks needs will be catered for in the numerous bars and the food village on site.

Speaking about headliners Primal Scream, who return to Aberdeen after a sold-out gig at the cities’ Beach Ballroom last year, the festival’s marketing director, Mark Lenthall said

“When it comes to Scotland’s greatest bands, Primal Scream are right up there. From the Pyramid stage at Glastonbury, to T In The Park and Reading, they have played them all, so we’re thrilled to be bringing the band to Aberdeen this summer. With T2 Trainspotting hitting cinemas now, what better festival act could we have!”

So, with no T in The Park this year why not make it along to Hazlehead Park on Saturday 3rd June to kick off the summer in style and make this the biggest and best Enjoy Music Festival to date?

Photographs from last years event  – goo.gl/2ZoHXs 

Tickets are on sale at www.skiddle.com/festivals/enjoy-music
Website www.digitalloveaberdeen.co.uk/enjoymusic
Facebook www.facebook.com/enjoymusicaberdeen
Twitter @EnjoyMusicAbdn