Jun 282022
 

Craig Chisholm reviews Kasabian at The Beach Ballroom, Aberdeen.

Guitarist turned singer, Serge Pizzorno, is a hyperactive and overwhelming presence.

There’s an air of anticipation – and a hint of worry – in the air tonight as Kasabian take to stage for the first time in months in a relatively low key warm up show for their upcoming tour.
There was major upheaval in the Kasabian camp during lockdown that saw lead singer Tom Meighan convicted in court on a rather unsavoury charge of assaulting his then fiancée.

But Kasabian, to their credit, acted quickly and decisively, sacking him from the band and expelling him from their inner circle.

An incident like this may have spelled the end of many a band or, worse, a public show of contrition and the usual carefully worded apology. Not Kasabian, though, who are to be credited with the strong message that separating from their singer sends out.

There’s no messing around tonight. No easing in the crowd gently. No time for reflection or soul searching.

Hitting the stage in disconcerting and overpowering strobe lights they blast into the banging ‘Club Foot’ with such energy that everywhere in a mile radius of the Beach Ballroom must have thought there was an earthquake happening.

Guitarist turned singer, Serge Pizzorno, is a hyperactive and overwhelming presence at the front of the stage.

Moving from side to side, bouncing, running and jumping like a prize fighter in the ring, your eyes are drawn to him and you’re overcome by his intensity and energy.

Any questions regarding his ability to step up to front man – from his usual role of guitarist – or doubts about his voice being able to carry the tunes, are dispelled tonight. He’s a natural frontman, a consummate showman and his voice is perfect for the songs.

Blasting through a 17 song set, the band show they are more ready for their upcoming headline dates and their support slots with Liam Gallagher at Hampden Park and Knebworth among others.

The hits, such as ‘Empire’, ‘Vlad The Impaler’ and ‘Shoot the Runner’ are all played. There’s a live debut for ‘SCRIPTVRE’ from upcoming album ‘The Alchemists Euphoria’ (Due August 5th) and plenty of crowd pleasers in between.

The sprung floor at the Beach Ballroom was tested to its limits tonight and there’ll be a few lugs still ringing the following morning from the aural assault.

Closing with ‘Fire’, the band end a triumphant show that has dispelled any doubts about their future. They’re in for the long haul and will be headlining arenas and festivals for a long time to come.

Set List:

Club Foot
Ill Ray (The King)
Underdog
You’re in Love With a Psycho
ALYGATYR
Shoot the Runner
SCRIPTVRE
Bumblebee
Stevie
Pinch Roller
Treat
Empire
Switchblade Smiles
Vlad the Impaler

Encore:

Bless This Acid House
L.S.F. (Lost Souls Forever)
Fire

Jun 232022
 

Craig Chisholm reviews The Charlatans and Martin Carr at Aberdeen Music Hall.

The Charlatans are treated as conquering heroes to a partisan crowd.

Has it really been nearly ten years since The Charlatans last played Aberdeen? Last time around they played a run through of their classic album ‘Tellin’ Stories’ and the odd b-side from that phase of their career.

Tonight is also a dive into the past – a retrospective set in support of last year’s compilation album ‘A Head Full of Ideas: The Best of Charlatans’

But before The Charlatans take to the stage for what was supposed to be a 30th – now 32nd – anniversary tour, it’s the turn of former Boo Radleys guitarist and songwriter Martin Carr and his band, What Future, to entertain the crowd.

Most of the crowd seem to be in the bar when they come on but by the end of the set the hall is suitably filled with an audience appreciative of his songwriting skills.

Martin Carr

His bright indie pop still retains a knack for the harmonies and hooks that made Boo Radleys stars in the mid 90s. Leaning heavily on his solo material for the 30 minute set there’s only the one nod to his former band with a closing performance of the brilliant ‘Lazarus’ – which is met with an applause as rapturous to the one given when he says “have a good night – fuck the Tories”.

The Thurso born, Wallasey raised, singer and his band may have won a few more fans tonight with both his music and his politics.

Coming on stage to the pulsating ‘Forever’, The Charlatans are treated as conquering heroes to a partisan crowd.

It’s hit after hit, hook after hook, as they blast through over 100 mins of classics selected from their back catalogue.

The LED backdrop plays videos and shows pictures from the past three decades of their career – ticket stubs, tour posters, old concerts and, poignantly, old footage of late keyboard player Rob Collins and drummer Jon Brooks, who tragically died of a brain tumour in 2013.

But this isn’t a wake, it’s not a simple case of nostalgia and they are certainly not resting on their laurels – this is a band that have embraced all genres, mixed up the past and looked to the future.

From the soulful ‘A Man Needs to be Told’ to the Chemical Brothers infused dance beats of ‘One to Another’ to the Stones-y swagger of ‘Just When You’re Thinking Things Over’, it’s a joyous and life affirming set by a band that have never stood still.

Highlights? Everything. There are no mishits, no songs that make you want to go to the bar.

It’s all killer, no filler, as they say.

Closing – as ever – with an extended ‘Sproston Green’, the band leave the stage tired and exhausted as the crowd, reluctantly, leave the exits the in the very same state.

Setlist:

Forever
Weirdo
Can’t Get Out of Bed
Then
So Oh
You’re So Pretty – We’re So Pretty
Sleepy Little Sunshine Boy
Just When You’re Thinkin’ Things Over
One to Another
Different Days
Future Tense (with Ian Rankin) (Spoken word)
Plastic Machinery
I Never Want an Easy Life If Me and He Were Ever to Get There
A Man Needs to Be Told
The Blind Stagger
The Only One I Know
North Country Boy
How High

Encore:

Sproston Green

Jun 162022
 

Craig Chisholm reviews Pictish Trail and Savage Mansion at The Lemon Tree, Aberdeen.

A Pictish Trail show isn’t your run of the mill concert.

It’s a glorious mish mash of one man and his acoustic guitar, a band playing electro-indie-psych-rock and some of the funniest between song anecdotes and asides to the crowd that’s guaranteed to bring a smile to your face and a spring to your step.

Pictish Trail is better known to his Mum as Johnny Lynch. He’s a resident of Eigg, a prolific song writer, the head honcho of the Lost Map record label and, as cliched as it sounds, one of the best live acts around just now.

But before he and his band entertain the crowd, it’s the turn of Lost Map signees Savage Mansion to warm up attendees.

The Glasgow based band play an infectious brand of shambolic indie pop that’s a treat to the ears. There are shades of Pavement in there, a hint of Lou Reed in the vocals, all of which combine to create an enjoyable and listenable experience.

Keyboard player Kate is from Aberdeen and, when put on the spot, is asked to name something good about her hometown. She opts for the number 19 bus, which is given a shout out by singer Craig Angus.

Shout out to Savage Mansion too, for a great set.

Headliner Pictish Trail bravely starts the show with two solo acoustic tracks – ‘Easy With Either’ and ‘Nuclear Sunflower’ before being joined by “Eigg’s sexiest man 2009, Joe” on guitar for another track.

Pictish Trail, of course, moved to Eigg in 2010.

Whereby Joe won the award again, apparently.

This sort of quip is just a precursor for the between song banter and shaggy dog tales, including a tale about a near death experience involving a log filled truck with his passengers, comedians Josie Long and James Acaster.

But the humour and laughs are only a small part of an eclectic and joyful set that shows the breadth and depth of Johnny’s talent.

Songs are well crafted, catchy, and clever. Folkie, indie, danceable but draped in a pop sheen.

As he dances through the crowd at one point, still singing, you’re transported to a place of happiness, an escape from the world and its troubles.

Pictish Trail is no stranger to Aberdeen and hopefully he’ll be back soon – if you can’t wait then be sure to catch him in Glasgow, Dunfermline, Arisaig, Oban, Lockerbie and, more local-ish, Findhorn in August.

Set List:

Easy With Either (Johnny solo)
Nuclear Sunflower Swamp (Johnny solo)
Slow Memories (Johnny and Joe)
Double Sided
Island Family
Far Gone (Don’t Leave)
It Came Back
Melody Something
The River It Runs Inside Of Me
Fear Anchor
Turning Back

Encore:

Natural Successor

Jun 142022
 

The Simple Minds 40th anniversary tour finally rolled into town for a marathon two and a half hour set that spanned their entire career. Craig Chisholm reviews.

In fact, it’s been delayed so long that it’s nearer 44 years since their humble beginnings in Glasgow to the arena filling band they are today rather than the 40th Anniversary Tour it was advertised as originally.
Opener ‘Act of Love’ is a song that bookends their career – originally written when they started out in the late 70s, it was pushed aside, forgotten about and never recorded until it finally was released as a “reimagined version” only a few weeks ago.

Guitarist Charlie Burchill plays a striking flying V guitar on it live, a nod to the bands more rock side.

From there, it’s a musical journey into the Simple Minds back catalogue of fan favourites, Number 1’s and the odd album track – spanning genres ranging from the previously mentioned rock (‘Don’t You Forget About Me’, ‘Waterfront’), soaring ballads (‘Belfast Child’, Speed Your Love to Me’) and post-punk, electronic bangers (‘Love Song’, ‘Theme for Great Cities’).

The pulsating ‘I Travel’, played early in the set, seems takes on new meaning it light of the Russian invasion of Ukraine with its lyrics talking of “Cities, buildings falling down” and “In central Europe, Men are marching” as does the haunting ‘Belfast Child’ (“Some say troubles abound; Someday soon they’re gonna pull the old town down”), which singer Jim Kerr acknowledges before playing the song.

Despite being his 60s, Kerr is still an enigmatic and active showman – kneeling on the lip of stage, walking to the wings, gesturing as he sings. He looks as fit and healthy as he did a few decades ago.

He goes through at least four costume changes through the show – albeit just shirts and jackets and nothing too flamboyant.

He’s also still adept at drawing a crowd in as he ever was – waving, clapping, speaking to those in the rear seating.

He knows how to involve the audience, a skill finely honed over the years as the band rose from clubs and halls to massive stadiums and international audiences.

He’s also quite humorous and funny at times – acknowledging the delays in the concert and how Charlie spent the ticket money down the bookies; shouting “sing it in Spanish… Sing it in Italian…. Sing it in Doric” during the “la la la la la” refrain of US number 1 ‘Don’t You (Forget About Me)’.

Overall, it’s an entertaining and satisfying night by a band that still enjoy being on stage and creating new music – here’s to the next forty years.

Set 1:

* Act of Love
* I Travel
* Celebrate
* Glittering Prize
* Promised You a Miracle
* Book of Brilliant Things
* Up on the Catwalk
* Hunter and the Hunted
* Love Song
* Belfast Child

Set 2:

* Theme For Great Cities
* Waterfront
* She’s a River
* Dolphins
* Once Upon a Time
* Someone Somewhere in Summertime
* See the Lights
* All the Things She Said
* Don’t You (Forget About Me)
* Let It All Come Down
* New Gold Dream (81-82-83-84)

Encore:

* Speed Your Love to Me (Sarah Brown & Berenice Scott vocals)
* Alive and Kicking
* Sanctify Yourself

 Posted by at 16:49  Tagged with:
Jun 142022
 

Craig Chisholm reviews.

Like every other gig happening just now, it’s a been a long time coming.
It’s been two long years since tickets went on sale for The Modfather’s Music Hall gig.
But Weller hasn’t been sitting idly by – he’s released a couple of albums – On Sunset and Fat Pop Vol 1.

There’s been a live stream – Midsommermusick – and there’s even an orchestral live album out this month.

So, that alone would be a lot to cram into a setlist for the new tour – but add in another 14 solo albums, 5 Style Council albums and another half dozen by The Jam then there’s a wealth of material to choose from.

But if choosing a set from such a large back catalogue is daunting, it must be nothing compared to being the opening act for such an icon.

However, if John Rush is nervous then he doesn’t let it show. In fact, his solo set is a confident and accomplished performance.

Hunched behind an acoustic guitar, absorbed in his songs he is humorous, appreciative and seems genuinely happy to be given the opportunity to perform in front of a decent sized crowd.

His folk-tinged pop tunes go down well, and he even gets a sing-a-long going near the end with the crowd joining in on backing vocals. In front of a crowd that likely didn’t know about him before tonight, he does well and will have gained a few fans.

Striding confidently onto stage in a seasonally appropriate crimson jumper, Weller oozes confidence and is every inch the rock legend.

Flanked by two drummers, a bassist, keyboard player, sax player and, crucially, Ocean Colour Scene guitarist Steve Craddock, he blasts through a set that lasts well over 2 hours but feels like it passes in half that time, such is how enjoyable it is.

It’s a confident and measured set – just enough of the hits to please the more chart minded fans; a couple of tracks by The Jam to send the punk fans home happy; a nod to The Style Council for the 80s fans and a fine spread of solo tracks from the last 30 years for the solo performer fans.

It’s a tricky skill to keep everyone happy but Weller retains that skill whilst ploughing his own furrow, not afraid to cut loose and experiment.

Highlight of the set is a quintet of tracks from the solo commercial high point, the classic ‘Stanley Road’, performed back-to-back – the title track itself, followed by ‘Broken Stones’, ‘The Changingman’, ‘Porcelain Gods’ and a sublime ‘You Do Something to Me’.

But the biggest cheers of the night go to a couple of classics by The Jam – ‘That’s Entertainment’ and ‘A Town Called Malice’ which bring the house down at the end of the night.

An epic set by an epic performer.

Set List:

White Sky
Cosmic Fringes
Peacock Suit
My Ever Changing Moods (The Style Council song)
Hung Up
Saturn’s Pattern
Old Father Tyme
Shout To The Top
Village
More
That Pleasure
Stanley Road
Broken Stones
The Changingman
Porcelain Gods
You Do Something to Me
Still Glides the Stream
Shades of Blue
Above the Clouds
Wild Wood
Brushed
Into Tomorrow
Friday Street
Can You Heal Us (Holy Man)
On Sunset
That’s Entertainment (The Jam song)
Town Called Malice (The Jam song)

Jun 062022
 

By Suzanne Kelly.

Dear All

Congratulations on your election to Aberdeen City Council.  There are high hopes for your cohort. I write to say I am always interested in hearing from you on the issues.  I am glad that so many of you have communicated with me over the years.

The following issues are of great interest to the public.  None of these issues will be allowed to just fizzle out. 

I will certainly continue my pursuit not only of such stories, but more importantly of resolutions.  Some documentation is attached; more is available.  I invite you to search the archives of online newspaper Aberdeen Voice, www.aberdeenvoice.com and to look at my FOI register on What Do They Know – https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/user/suzanne_kelly/requests 

Size of the city’s deficit:

Debt exceeding £1.4 bn is utterly unsustainable, and expensive real estate ventures/forays into the commercial real estate sector must be better thought out; they are not cure-alls.  

Marischal Square:

Not even the city can say with certainty how much money comes in as rent from the occupants; I was told as much in an FOI. 

Relevant committees must as a matter of urgency weigh up how much is spent on sweeteners (a list appeared in Aberdeen Voice showing millions paid out to companies including Aberdeen Journals Ltd and multinationals – the city resisted supplying this information until the Information Commissioner intervened), and future renewals and new deals need to get the value for money the taxpayer expects but is not getting.

Relationship with Aberdeen Journals Ltd: 

The ethical considerations of continuing to fund Aberdeen Journals Ltd should be examined; I am unaware of any other lucrative sweeteners offered to large or small news outlets operating in the area.

Then again, many news outlets would not want to lose their integrity and independence by taking money from Aberdeen’s taxpayers via ACC.

Click to enlarge.

Union Terrace Gardens:

How was it decided to spend c £26 million to remove 46 mature trees which most definitely cleaned the air, in order to create new shops adjacent to a street with closed-down shops? 

This vanity project needs full investigation – and the state of it at present should be included in that.

Covid is often used as an excuse for the slow pace of the project – and yet construction workers were absolutely permitted to carry on work during lockdowns. 

When granite steps were removed from the site, a councillor was upbraided for suggesting they were gone by an officer who later had to do a u-turn; I am not convinced officers show enough support to the elected councillors.

Aberdeen Inspired:

This business improvement district entity receives money from the central government, and Aberdeen City prepares its billing and accounts free of charge – which is a benefit in kind funded by the taxpayer. It steadfastly refuses to answer FOIs lodged with it.  You should be aware of its early problems.

  • Former head awarded her husband a unilateral pay increase and soon after left. 
  • AI spent c £400k of taxpayer money from central government on the abysmal illuminated street signage.  The signs have malfunctioned – but their biggest drawback is that while they can be clearly seen from both sides of the streets which they hang over, they are only legible from one direction – an error that no first-year design student would make.   
  • No tender exercise was held; an English firm got the £400k – a firm which apparently had a link to John Lewis, a company which at the time had presence on the AI board. 

The money spent on the Christmas fairs, the ridiculously-high figures presented as accurate footfall in the past of over 600k visitors – all this needs to be investigated and remedied. 

There is a definite lack of retail/city planning expertise in the organisation; an ex-policeman has been allowed to guide the city’s retail future and the failures of the lack of relevant experience are all too evident.

Torry:

Very little green space remains, and what there is is under threat from the plans of unelected quangos such as ONE.  Hydrogen is not a viable future, and certainly not at the expense of further industrial builds on green space. 

Biodiversity in Torry has tumbled; environmental issues must be taken more seriously.  I and many are convinced the incinerator will further degrade air quality (I developed asthma while living in Torry); hydrogen industry takeover of green belt is unacceptable to many.

Scotia Homes/Sheilhill Road area / B999 promised road improvements:

When Scotia got permission for the hundreds of new homes in the area, it paid substantial sums towards three specific road improvements which at the time were said by ACC to be for safety reasons. 

The money had long-since been paid with no work done – and inexplicably with the Chief Executive writing that the funds had ‘just’ been received when they had been in-house for years.  Some councillors have tried to help; others have worked to slow and stop the needed road improvements.  This remedial, promised and paid-for work must be done.

Sky walkway at Union Terrace Gardens:

A FOI request about the safety of the walkway is now long overdue.  I requested the necessary risk assessments; they are not forthcoming. 

The very idea of building a sky walkway next to a bridge known for over 100 self-harm events over the years – with the walkway having only balustrades for protection – is an immense risk.  As well as opportunities for self harm, the very real possibility of danger from fallen – or thrown – objects exists, and should be addressed in the documentation for the project. 

Such documentation must be released; the walkway must not open until it can be guaranteed safe.  The liability for lawsuits on the city is enormous, and that needs to be recognised.

ACC Freedom of Information handling:

The city’s FOI team complains it has many FOIs to answer; the media team likewise complains it has many requests to answer.  In years past, journalists were allowed to speak to employees and officers directly and get information swiftly. 

This change was ACC’s decision, although Indeed some news outlets still seem to enjoy that privilege. 

Virtually every FOI request I make is answered late.  Some require appeals to the Information Commissioner which are often successful. Some are delayed by staff asking for clarification of my questions which are already spelled out in great precise clarity – some feel this is a delaying tactic. 

There absolutely needs to be improvements; the Information Commissioner’s Office is looking at these issues.

This includes the removal of the requirement for those asking ACC questions via their website to set up an account with the city – there is no reason a person needs to be logged into the city’s systems – where their activity could be monitored or tracked – in order to make or see FOI requests. 

All FOI requests should be visible and easily searchable on the ACC website. As it is, there is no longer one visible list of FOIs, but smaller sub-lists and subpages.  The whole FOI procedure is cumbersome, slow, and sometimes ignores IC policy, as demonstrated in the judgments against it. Time for change.

Aberdeen Art Gallery: 

You should all be aware of the fact that over the years 1,577 items were lost or stolen – and as it now emerges, destroyed. 

In a report to the Audit, Risk & Scrutiny Committee, officer Sweetnam (?relation to the gallery’s Margaret Sweetnam? – that would constitute a conflict of interest many might think – but the city refuses to confirm or deny the relationship) represented many galleries have such losses.

I heard from Glasgow, Edinburgh, Dundee and Highlands & Islands.  Not one of these has anything like the losses ACC has.  The curatorial policy has seen some 24 listings for rocks, gemstones, valuable minerals and fossils destroyed:  this is wholly against the policies for disposal published by National Galleries Scotland – policies the Sweetnam report claimed the gallery adheres to.

Nothing should be destroyed unless it is a hazard according to that policy. 

Click to enlarge.

Many catalogue items are undated, don’t show what the item is made of, no indication of size of item or quantity in a listing:  all contrary to same policy.  It is hard not to think criminality is involved in some of the thefts that has not been fully examined. 

The ARS committee is set to look at the issue again in the near future; it is hoped that any report put to it will be robustly analyzed, and the inconsistencies pointed out here are examined. 

It is bizarre that some items donated have virtually no value, and the question needs to be asked of such items what valuation was the donor given and did it offset tax liabilities for the donor unfairly?

You certainly have your work cut out for you.  Serving the public and protecting the public’s money and remaining green space must be top of your list, and I look forward to hearing from any and all of you on the issues.

Yours sincerely,
Suzanne Kelly, NUJ

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Dec 192021
 

In her tenth annual Christmas Satire Aberdeen Voice’s Suzanne ‘Old Susannah’ Kelly revisits the events of the past year and revisits last year’s satire, ‘A Night At Storybook Glen’. 

In that tale last year we learned how Angus performed on his first shift at the night security guard at Storybook Glen. Tonight we join Angus at his new job.

Angus straightened his tie, gave his lapels a pull to straighten his jacket and stepped off the No. 19 Hydrogen bus onto Union Street. Then he promptly slipped on the permanent temporary wooden decking, cracking his head on the wooden parklet (in other words a bench with a planter container filled with vandalised plants, fast-food wrappers and cigarette butts).

“Oh! ma heid!” he muttered, getting up and staggering towards the Souless bar, where he intended to have a quick weak beer before his 9pm shift at The Aberdeen Museum & Art Gallery would start.

Celebrating his new job since leaving Storybook Glen seemed a good idea.

“What’ll it be?” shouted the bar person over the heads of the noisy shouting/hugging throng.

“Ah’ll jist hae a Nanny State Shandy, mak it a half,” he smiled.

Just then a round-faced ginger-haired man in foggy spectacles popped his head around the bar.

“Oh no, my old pal Angus here wants something a wee bit stronger, don’t you pal? I hear you’re that new night security guard at the Musuem; you’ll be wantin tae stay awake.

“Here, have one of my Torry snowballs,” he said, pushing a glass to Angus.

Angus cocked his head to one side, and looked at the drink a bit dubiously.

He suddenly remembered the last time he’d had one of Pablo’s cocktails was last year at Storybook Glen’s drinks marquee, where he wasn’t sure whether half the things he’d seen that night were real or not.

He hadn’t been able to sleep properly for days afterwards, and found himself talking as long and as nonsensically as any ACC councillor.

“Pablo, ta aa the same, but Ah’m startin’ ma new job i noo, an’ need tae look sharp. By the wye, how did ye ken Ah’m on nights i noo?”

“Both the Night Time Economy Manger an’ the Alternate Night Time Economy Managers told me. Now just get that down yer neck an’ you’ll have a crackin’ time at the museum.”

Thinking both ‘fit’s an ‘Alternative Night Time Economy Manager’ and ‘Ach why nae?’ Angus downed the drink, thanked Pablo, and went on his merry way.

Who knows? Who cares? It’s a free dinner at the Marcliffe.

The snowy streets were dark, and here and there a fallen over pensioner, woman in high heels or people with mobility issues moaned for help as they slipped, slid and fell on the wooden pavements.

‘Anither normal night in the Deen’ Angus thought, watching brawling men spilling out of a pub swinging at each other and shouting.

Before long, turning down the beautifully illuminated street sign that read ‘elmo tree’ hanging over Belmont Street (one of twelve English-made signs a snip at £400k the lot), Angus found himself approaching the front of the Art Gallery.

He could see the curator standing just inside the doorway.

“It’s 2 minutes and 17 seconds to nine – I hope you’re going to be more punctual tomorrow night Angus!” the curator impatiently simmered, tapping at his watch.

“Angus, I think you met Tom, Dick and Harry; they’ll take it from here. I’m off to the award ceremony.”

“Thank you sir,” said Angus

“Err, which award ceremony is that?”

The curator gave a sign and an eyeroll, answering:

“Who knows? Who cares? It’s a free dinner at the Marcliffe.” And off he went.

Angus said ‘hullo’ to the three guards who stood before him. He had met them on his interview.

Angus heard a ‘SPLAT’ and the whole museum suddenly got eerily darker

They were all retired, but like so many people these days, chose to work minimum wages for the fun and excitement of it rather than enjoying their retirement.

Tom spoke first.

“Fine seein’ ye Angus; welcome. Ah ken ye’ve got yer flashlicht, an’ ere’s the keys.”

Dick chimed in:

“An’ ye’ll be needin this instruction manual; tells ye aa ye need tae ken aboot workin here at nicht. Can get a bittie spooky, ken – “ he broke off.

“But ach, ye’ll be jis’ fine.”

Finally Harry spoke, thrusting a bag at Angus, saying:

“Ye’ll hae a gran’ time Angus, jist dinna mind ony noises ye hear or onythin’ funny ye think ye micht be gan on. Sometimes the lichts play funny tricks.

“An’ if yer feelin’ i cauld, jist hae some o’ this BrewDog Tactical Nuclear Penguin or Sink the Bismarck – we thocht ye micht like a wee gift fae us on yer first day.”

They toured the museum, now devoid of the last of its visitors. Tracey Emin’s artwork, basically a neon sign,made entirely by others based on a scrawled few words of hers through neon light which reflected strangely on a nearby copy of Michelangelo’s David, a statue of Robert the Bruce, and a few paintings.

‘Fit is it wi’ Aiberdeen thinkin neon signs should be elevated tae expensive artwork an’ road signs?’ Angus thought.

For a fleeting moment the light almost made it seem as if the statues could talk – and wanted to. He shook his head and the effect was gone.

The four men meandered through the museum’s many rooms and floors, they passed priceless artworks by Scottish masters, portraits, battle scenes.

They stood under the great glass oculus window when Angus heard a ‘SPLAT’ and the whole museum suddenly got eerily darker as the light seemed to lower.

The three other security guards laughed.

“Aye, ye looked spooked already pal; that’s jist a seagull splattering the windae wi’ sh*te.” Tom laughed.

Dick said:

“Aye, it came as a huge surprise tae the architects that seagulls sh*te near the sea. Fa wid hae thocht?”

“Didnae stop them gettin’ plenty o’ awards though – fer gettin’ rid o’ the auld marble stairs veneer, an putting a pottycabin on the roof. The original architects are nae thrilled at aa” added Harry.

Tom broke across him:

“Ya mean the original architects widna be thrilled.”

“At’s fit Ah’m sayin’,” Harry answered.

Angus thought the three exchanged a quick glance, but then they ushered him onward.

Peering at the Inventory, Angus thumbed through

They were now in the basement, or ‘Subterranean Treasure Hub No 19’ as a sign read. Huge mountainous shelves were piled high with items the museum had collected.

There were old sewing pattern books, pieces of granite, an old A-Z, unsold copies of the Evening Express from 1973, some old glass jars and more. Angus couldn’t help wonder why anyone in their right mind would keep this junk.

Almost as if sensing Angus’ misgivings about the quality of these items, Tom volunteered:

“Tae some fowk thon auld boots wi’ hols in em, auld used tin cans an’ the like are jist rubbish.”

‘Too right’ thought Angus.

“But,” continued Tom, “we ken they’re valuable, cause the city accepted thon donations an’ officially logged them here in this invinterry.”

They had gone through a door labelled ‘SECURITY’ and Tom pointed to a printed document marked ‘Inventory’. This was a few hundred pages in size.

Peering at the Inventory, Angus thumbed through it read a few lines as the other three men stepped into an ante room marked ‘NO ENTRY NOT EVEN YOU – KEN!’

“Afore we leave ye tae it, we’re, errr… jist gan tae git a few things we … err … left ahind, like ma piece box an ma shoppin’ fae Poondland.

“Noo, Angus, ye lisnin? – ye can ging onywye ye like in i museum, but nae past ess door.

“Nivver! – nae metter fitivver happens! Ye hear ma?”

Angus just shrugged, and left them to it. As he heard banging, and scraping noises from that room, he thumbed through the inventory:

ABDMS095514 Gilda Le Fevre Label, 1920-1980
ABDMS095515 Jane Doe’s Thimble, 1920-1940
ABDMS095516 Jane Doe’s broken Thimble, 1886
ABDMS095517 Pattern for Six-Section Hat, 1936-1980
ABDMS095518 Pattern for Six-Section Hat, 1936-1980
ABDMS095519 Oval Hat Pattern, 1936-1980
ABDMS095520 Jane Doe’s Brim Pattern, 1936-1980
ABDMS095521 Jane Doe Sewing, 1990
ABDMS095522 Photograph of Gilda LeFevre, 1990
ABDMS095523 Photograph of Jane Doe, 1936-1980
ABDMS095524 Photograph of Gilda LeFevre and Employees, 1990
ABDMS095525 Photograph of Gilda LeFevre and Employees, 1990
ABDMS095526 Photograph of Pantomime, 1944
ABDMS095527 Photograph of Pantomime, 1944
ABDMS095589 Results Past, 2017
ABDMS095590 Comment No 20.
ABDMS095591 Comment No 15.
ABDMS095592 Comment No 16.
ABDMS095562 Valuable Gift, 2011
ABDMS095533 Income Tax Record, 1944-1945
DISAGBS000057
DISAGBS000058
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DISAGBS000062
DISAGBS000063

“Fit’s a hat maker’s broken thimble daein in a museum?” He asked

“Nae idea, but ye can be sure it’s worth a fair few bob.” Tom shouted back

“Fits somebody’s auld tax record daein’ here?”

“Nae idea.” answered Dick

“Fit’s ess aboot? – items ca’d ‘Comment 20’ an’ hunners o’ blank lines?”

“Dinnae fash yersel loon, the important museum curator staff an’ cooncil will understan’ aa thon technical stuff.”

“Hey – how come there’s aa this stuff marked ‘missin’?” Angus asked.

Tom, Dick and Harry had stepped out of the back room.

Each now had on a huge backpack. Tom had a suitcase on wheels.

Dick had a big cardboard box with what looked like a gold frame sticking out of the top of it, and Harry had a big sack.

“Angus, jist bide here, watch i telly, hae a drink an’ a nap, and we’ll see ye aboot 9 the morn’s mornin. Dinna worry aboot onythin’ an’ pey nae heed tae ony noises ye think ye micht be hearin’.” Tom said

“Aye, an’ read thon instruction manual if onythin’ … errr …  unusual pops up. See ye the morn.” said Dick.

“An’ mind fit Ah tellt ye. BIDE OOT O’ ESS ROOM…. Guid Nicht!” said Harry, shutting the door to the forbidden room.

The three turned to leave when with a clatter a selection of silver spoons fell out of Dick’s coat’s sleeve. Scooping them up Angus said:

“Hemen, hing on, looks like ye drapped summin. Ah think ah got ’em aa. See yiz the morn …  an’ thanks for the drink an’ yer help.”

The three men traded furtive looks and off they went out the security guard entrance. For some reason they turned off the light outside of the exit door, and the street outside was in darkness.

Angus watched as they pulled on their covid masks (‘for safety no doubt’ Angus thought), and drew their hats and scarves over their faces, their uniforms covered by their long dark coats. They threw their bags and boxes into the back of the van. Jumping in, they sped off into the night.

“Hey, ye’ve nae switched yer heidlights on”- Angus called after them, but they had sped out of sight.

Angus sat down and opened the bag he’d been left; pulling out a bottle of Tactical Nuclear Penguin he thought ‘At least this will be a bit more normal than Storybook Glen was’.

He thumbed through the inventory half-interested by the repeated words ‘missing’, ‘damaged’, ‘stolen’. On the desk he saw an old Press & Journal; its headlines read ‘Wood to save Torry by turning it into an industrial zone – Hoorah!’ and ‘Exclusive whitewash of oor role in Trump Menie development’.

Folding the paper up into a pillow, he put his head down and soon was fast asleep.

# # #

Angus slowly woke from a dream

He thought he heard voices.

Grabbing his flashlight and having a quick swig from his hip flask, followed by more fortified beer, he stealthily made his way to where the sound was coming from.

Approaching the centre of the building, he stopped to listen; he heard men and women chattering, the pop of a champagne cork, and glasses clinking.

Angus stood out of sight around a corner. The lights were on, and a few dozen well-dressed men and women were milling around the entrance foyer.

“.. so we donated 400 grubby auld cigarette cards, an’ got a 10k tax break; it wis hilarious!”

“I ken, right?,” said a woman’s voice “We donated some auld bits o’ stationery we were gan tae fling oot – seriously, an auld eraser, some index tabs. Chucked in a cigarette lighter or twa, and ken? We didnae hae tae pey tax fer a year. I’m affa gled ye suggested it; thanks again!”

Laughter ensued. Glasses clinked.

“Fit a crackin’ award ceremony; wis richt fine hearin’ Stew tell mair o’ his hilarious jokes doon the Marcliffe. Cooncil pickin’ up the tab Ah’d expect, aye?”

Angus kept hidden out of sight; he realised that these people were some of the town’s great and the good – and a few councillors.

“Hey, div ye still hae thon siller punch bowl roon at yer place? Ah widna mind a shottie o’ it in a couple o wikks fer the big ONE Christmas perty, if ye can spare it?”

Angus stayed out of sight and caught snippets of further conversations.

“Looks a richt sotter, dis it nae? Lik tuppence o’ mix. A metal box on tap o’ a MacKenzie mesterpiece? Nae cohesive use o’ materials, nae relation tae the existing proportions or aesthetic. It wis bound tae win awards. Did ye ken MacKenzie’d daen the Waldorf?

“D’ye think they’d let some hacks come alang an’ stick a metal box on tap o’ the Waldorf?”

Further laughter followed; Angus heard more glasses clinking.

“Fa’s carin’ fit it looks like?” a woman’s voice could be heard asking,

“The point is it wis a much-needed consultation an’ construction job – an’ fit’s mair vibrant an’ dynamic than a few extra crisp Jane Austen’s in your wikkly brownie?”

“The £36 mil wis weel spent – Ah mean, it’s nae like ony o’ us or we’re faimilies will hae tae pey for it.”

“A shame it didna help like we thocht it wid though … tae push the £180 million revamp o’ thon gerdens, Ah mean that wis the original plan, wis it nae?”

“Ach weel, at least the gerdens are aa dug up noo; thon space-hoggin, unprofitable trees awa – well maist o’ them, an’ thankfully some shops are gan in. Mair consultation, mair construction, an’ … errr …. some mair goodies up for grabs an’ aa.”

“Mind, ‘at was richt sleekit o’ ye tae announce with nae prior warning that the gallery wid fa’ tae bits if it didna get a new roof an’ a new a’thin else. Weel done.”

“Aye, an’ thon lottery ticket sellin’ racket wis genius an’ aa.”

“Foo lang dis onybody think ess new buildin’ work will stan’ up? That windae better be water ticht, an’ let’s hope that despite fit it looks like, that box winna ivver cause ony funny stresses or load issues ower time.”

“But twa years owerdue – how’d ye sell ‘at tae the public again?”

“Get this.” A short balding man said.

“We got the P&J tae say – an’ Ah hae tae laugh – we were ower spent an’ owerdue because ‘We had to get it right!’”

The room erupted in laughter.

Just then the doors burst open and three people, looking a bit the worse for wear staggered in, arms over each others’ shoulders, singing.

“Here’s oor Wullie!” one of the revellers shouted.

“Aye, an’ the Alternative Night Time Manager sure seems tae hae livened him an’ Al up a bit, aye?

Angus guessed it must still be snowing, as the newly-arrived trio were covered in white powder. The conversations continued.

“So fylst the average mannie in the street says ‘oh fit a bonny buildin! ‘it’s won an award’ or ‘we get tae see a heap o’ local artwork’ an’ aa that crap, we get some tax write affs for donating tat, a wee thank you fae the commissioning an’ construction folk, AND…”

The voice paused for a moment

“An’ aa the priceless airtwork, siller an’ nick-nacks ye could ivver want or need tae decorate wi’, or use tae pad up yer retirement fund.”

An anxious woman’s voice was heard next

“But will fowk nae twig that it’s aa o’ us fa’s donating absolute rubbish? Will they nae catch on that the good stuff’s naewye tae be found?”

The man who’d just spoken answered her,

“Nah, nah, dinna worry yersel; hae anither scoof o’ bubbly. Aa the donations are anonymous – unless somebody’s gan for a big publicity stunt; an’ naebody’ll ivver ken fa donated aa thon auld muck.

“Efter aa, thon auld bits o’ auld crap, unsellt papers, broken thimbles an’ fit hiv ye, are of course – should onybody ask – IMPORTANT PIECES O’ OOR HERITAGE.

“Onybody says stuff’s gan missing? Weel: fa’s gan tae clipe? Certainly nae oor local papers – by the wye, gled tae see yiz aa here the nicht an’ hope yer likin’ yer Marischal Square offices. We were happy tae help ye get thon rent breaks an’ perks; fit’s a few mill between chums? The morn, Ah’ve some mair stories for ye tae rin, but the nicht’s a social occasion. Here’s tae us!”

“HERE’S TAE US!!” the room answered back.

As Angus slowly crept away he heard a voice:

“Love how the granite an’ marble looks in yer gerden; lucky for yersel it’s aff limits an’ yer nae subject tae ess right tae roam stuff like the rest o’ us, as befits a mannie in yer position….”

“Ye’ll be in the hoose o’ heroes afore lang; oor very ain king o hydrogen…”

“…chose affa weel indeed… nah, nae The Shamen – drug references, ye ken? The beer brewing fowk – nah, too critical o’ Donald an’ made a few ither controversial missteps as weel …. St Machar the founder? Nah, nae famous enough. If we’d brocht up Glover fowk micht start askin’ aboot eez hoose an’ its contents…. nae punk musicians obviously – that would hae a toxic effect… an’ certainly nae St Fittick…”

Angus decided not to tangle with this crew and silently backed away into the darkness of the museum.
Reaching his guard room again, he tried to make sense of what he’d just overheard. ‘Far’s tha instruction manual?’ he muttered, and finding it started to read.

Rules:
1. Ye see nithin, ye ken nithin
2. If summin’s wrang an’ ye want to report it tae the line manager, dinna!. Mind, ye’ve got a job an’ jobs are hard tae come by. The cooncil’s the biggest employer roon here.
3. If ye feel ye need tae report summin an’ canna trust yer line manager, jist tell the local papers. They’ll keep a lid on it for us. Better still, see Rule 1.
4. If ye can follae Rule 1, we’ll be sure ye get a nice pat on the heid fer daein fit yer tellt, ken fit ah mean?

However, the various drinks he’d had this evening were starting to make him feel woozy, so he reached for another one, and had a few swigs from a few bottles.

He was putting his head down as the loud voices seemed to go away.

He thought he heard the museum’s door shut, and soon it fell silent.

Angus went back to sleep, the words ‘hoose o’ heroes’ echoing in his mind.

Alas, Angus had only started this security job before the museum refit! The B.R. Premier Oil Lamp (now missing) was actually a magic lamp. When it had been in the museum, at midnight it’s magic brought ALL of the collection to life, kind of like that Ben Stiller series of films.

This included the (now missing) painting of the Gods on Olympus, 1798 by William Williams, including the (missing) Apollo and Daphne, also by Williams.

The architect who so carefully planned the Art Gallery, Mr Mackenzie, once roamed the halls when they were under construction shouting and screaming about his jewel being cannibalised and desecrated to the other gallery inhabitants when the magic lamp brought him to life; but he is heard no more.

The (missing) portrait of Sir Thomas More [sic] by Francesco Bartolozzi RA, After Hans Holbein, came to life and spoke with eloquent logic.

Back then the (now missing) Scottish Maid by an unknown master sat down to enjoy a (now missing) Still Life With Candlestick & Bread by Oskar Kokoschka with the handsome (now missing) James, Fifth Earl of Fife by Alexander Brodie.

Highland Cattle came out of (now missing) paintings and huge, beautiful artworks were filled with life.

During the day, some of that magic could be seen by visiting school children, some of whom might once have been inspired to make similar work. Some of these pieces could have provided historical information to artists, researchers and family historians. And heck, some people might just have enjoyed looking at these now missing windows on another world and time.

nasty glass-box architecture rose

But today no one will see their beauty or magic again: save the people who know where these and 1,577 items are that belonged to Aberdonians.

While this is a satire with no relation to anyone living or dead, should anyone in possession of stolen valuable, irreplaceable art taken from the public ever read these lines, may they encounter the karma they have earned.

As to those who were paid to protect the art that belongs to all of us, but whether by ignorance, negligence or deliberate acts stole, turned a blind eye or otherwise allowed this betrayal of trust, may such judases eventually get their karmic rewards too.

Anyone who knows where any of the missing 1,577 items are but who is keeping quiet is an accessory after the fact to theft. Time to unburden yourselves and fess up.

In Angus’ dreams hundreds of valuable portraits disappeared out of the museum into nowhere. Bits of old papers, bus tickets, broken biros were put in gilt frames in place of the fine art and hung on the gallery walls. And he dreamed people were in awe of the elevated rubbish because they were told it was art.

He dreamed that the things of real value in his beloved city were being stolen, bulldozed, built over, sold cheaply and cheap, nasty glass-box architecture rose over what was once a collection of historic, unique buildings.

He dreamed the land once loved by heroes and literal saints was now governed by incompetents, venal, greedy self-serving sneaks, egotistical ward- and attention-seeking narcissists and sex offenders.

He dreamed that the historic was written off as old-fashioned and the cheap, profiteering projects destroying the greenbelt and its wildlife, as well as the once-unique city scape, were hailed in a bought-and-paid for biased press as ‘vibrant’ ‘dynamic’ and ‘job-creating’.

He dreamed that same press had abandoned any pretence of journalistic independence, integrity and impartiality by taking millions from the taxpayer and were happy to mislead the public when it suited them if there was money in it.

Then Angus saw it was morning and that he wasn’t dreaming.

Angus decided he’d had enough. He picked a few causes to fight, some wrongs to try to right, and he set off to lobby, to investigate and to run for office.

He might not succeed, but he was going to try.

# # #

Follow up on the 2018 Christmas Satire ‘The Snowman’

The above video Aberdeen Voice satire covered some of the awful events of 2019 worldwide. There are at least two happy endings – the Russian caging of beluga whales is over, and the cages destroyed: public pressure did this.

And happily Donald J Trump is out of office and in court – many courts – and may soon be convicted of crimes.

Here’s to a little people power: just what Aberdeen needs. Elections are in May. You can still register to run.

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Nov 192021
 

By Suzanne Kelly.

Aberdeen’s Evening Express’ long-serving columnist Frank Gilfeather was defenestrated after his opinion column on nightclub spiking attacks made on women sparked outrage.

An 18-year-old student in Aberdeen believed she had been spiked with a needle in an Aberdeen club, and Police Scotland were investigating.

Gilfeather, a retired boxer whose strapline was ‘The column that packs a punch’, took exception to a proposed Thursday night boycott of clubs for a girls’ night in protest and a petition to search clubbers.

In a column filled with misogynist mockery, he wrote:

“…surely it is the responsibility of the individual to keep themselves safe?”

While such incidents have been reported across the UK, Frank dismissed data on such attacks as being ‘sketchy at best’ concluding women suggesting full body and bag checks don’t ‘live in the real world.’

Unsurprisingly there was anger on social media.

The 23 October issue of the paper carried a full-page apology for Gilfeather’s column in lieu of its normal letters section. In ‘Frank Gilfeather’s column – apology’ editor Craig Walker announced Frank’s departure as the ex-pugilist refused to renounce his position. Walker declared:

“We are deeply sorry that our usually stringent editorial processes – the same processes which meant the column was not published on our website failed in the case of the printed edition.”

Walker continued:

“We pride ourselves on the quality of the journalism we publish…”

and on being

“… a trusted and constructive part of public debate.”

Readers with long memories were unconvinced. Former EE editor Damian Bates’ contributions to public debate and quality journalism included numerous puff pieces for Donald Trump while omitting that his wife Sarah Malone was the tycoon’s employee.

In 2007 the tabloid carried the headline ‘You traitors – fury as councillors kick out Trump’s £1bn golf plan’ with the faces of Aberdeenshire councillors who dared to vote down Trump’s initial golf resort plans.

The Evening Excess may have apologised for publishing Gilfeather, but it has never owned up to its persecution of these councillors, years of duping readers about the Bates/Malone connection or freezing protest group Tripping Up Trump out of the public debate Walker claims the paper values.

Such was the outrage over the spiking portion of his column that its other content was overlooked. Opining on the ‘let’s find something to offend us crowd’ Gilfeather was apoplectic over news that the National Theatre of Scotland had banned the word ‘spooky’, Writing:

“… but best impose a ban – just in case. Don’t you just love the flakiness of it all?”

Alas, the NTS had confirmed the story was untrue as per the Scottish Sun on 21 October, the same day Gilfeather was published.

Perhaps the EE’s stringent editorial policies and fact-checking still have a way to go?

‘Flakiness’ is the word for it.

 

Oct 212021
 

Review and photographs by Craig Chisholm.

Sunderland art-rockers, Field Music, returned to Aberdeen after a 9 year hiatus to play to a receptive crowd at The Tunnels on Carnegie Brae. Having released their 8th studio album – Flat White Moon – last April the band would have been relieved to finally get the show on the road in support of it, with this date being the opening night of a full UK tour.

First up, however, was local musician Steven Milne.

The Little Kicks frontman was drafted in early that afternoon after original support act – Galaxians – were unable to perform.

Milne is at pains to point out this is his first live appearance in 19 months. Coupled with the late call up, it could have proved to be a recipe for disaster.

However, he is nothing but naturally talented and that talent shone through in his solo performance.

Sitting behind a keyboard, he was captivating and engrossing as he ran through a set of Little Kicks tracks and a cover version of The Blue Nile’s ‘Tinseltown in the Rain’.
And it’s a credit to his song writing skills that his own material more than held its own even beside the sublime Blue Nile track.

A new Little Kicks album is due for April and should be on everyone’s shopping lists.

Brothers Peter and David Brewis have released 8 albums in the last 16 years under the moniker Field Music and tonight’s gig showcases songs across that time span.

Swapping roles between vocals / guitar and drums, there’s a real chemistry and understanding between the two siblings.

The music, the humour – it’s all interchangeable and on the same level between and during tracks. They’re the anti-Gallagher’s in that respect – brothers in music with no friction or individual ambition tearing them apart.

But that’s where the comparison begins and ends – the Brewis brother’s music isn’t steeped in conservative, classic rock, like Noel and Liam are, but in art-rock futurism and forward thinking of bands such as Talking Heads or Scritti Politti.

The set itself leans heavily on the recently released ‘Flat White Moon’ but there’s a dive into their back catalogue, with tracks such as ‘A House is not a Home’ and ‘(I Keep Thinking) About a New Thing’ given an airing.

Personal highlight for this correspondent was ‘Disappointed’, a near perfect pop tune steeped in a light funk backbeat.

The late, great musical genius Prince once tweeted their track ‘The Noisy Days Are Over’ without comment to his millions of followers – and that says a lot.

If anyone could recognise good music, you’d expect it from someone like him.

And the crowd recognise it tonight – it’s a magnificent set that has them clapping enthusiastically and begging for more.

After a good few years without a visit North to the Granite City, it was a joy to see them here again – hopefully they return sooner than later.

Oct 202021
 

Review and photographs by Craig Chisholm.

Just over three decades ago, The Quireboys released their debut album ‘A Bit of What You Fancy’.

Tonight, they revisited their commercial high point with a date at the Lemon Tree in Aberdeen.

First however, the crowd are entertained by up-and-coming slide guitarist Troy Redfern, backed with drummer Finn McAuley and bassist Keira Kenworthy.

Redfern is a virtuoso guitarist.

His guitar fireworks are astonishing to watch, his fingers running up and down the fretboard fluidly and gracefully.

But it’s not just a show in histrionics and shredding, it’s raw, gritty, heartfelt blues filled with emotion and belief.

Watching him, you know that he believes in the music he is singing, that he feels it – and that’s important.

It shows authenticity and a love for the genre.

For him to light up the guitar, he needs a strong groove and foundation to sit upon and his rhythm section are more than up to the job – they provide a solid, thunderous backbone to Redfern’s solos and slide guitar masterclass.

Closing his half hour set with a cover of Jimi Hendrix’s classic ‘Voodoo Chile’ you can see he’s made some new fans in the audience, many of whom are queued up minutes later to meet him and purchase his music.

“It’s 7 O’clock and time for a party” as their song goes – well, it’s not, it’s 9 o’clock when they hit the stage, but the party is most definitely on.

It’s been over 31 years now since their debut album ‘A Bit of What You Fancy’ was released.

It was halcyon times for the band back then – the album hit no.2 in the charts, singles went Top 40. There were support slots with the likes of Aerosmith and The Rolling Stones, on the bill of the Monsters of Rock festival at Castle Donington, appearances on Top of The Pops and huge headline tours of the UK, Europe and beyond.

But time moves on and tastes change – at the height of grunge in the early 90s, the band parted ways and went on an extended hiatus for a few years.

But The Quireboys are nothing but tenacious and not ones to shy away from a challenge.

Certain musical styles never go away either – and in the case of their bluesy, classic rock it’s a style that will always have its fans.

And the fans are out tonight as they revisit their debut, changing the running order to bring new focus on old songs and remind everyone why they had so much success with it.

The singles are all greeted with cheers – ‘7 O’Clock’, ‘Hey You’ and ‘There She Goes Again’ working the crowd on the frenzy and getting them dancing.

And there’s moments of poignancy and reflection such as the emotional ballad ‘I Don’t Love You Anymore’.

‘Whipping Boy’ is a particular highlight – low down and dirty slow blues, underpinned with some bass that reverberates through your soul.

The band seem to be enjoying it – lead singer Spike seems particularly happy to be on stage again after Covid’s shutdown of live music.

Between songs he’s humorous and friendly, speaking directly to members of the crowd, always with a twinkle in his eye.

He also seems to be slightly lubricated; shall we say – despite his quips about having not drank for 10 years.

But it’s Friday night and most of the crowd are on the same level as him and it endears him to them even more.

Once a song starts, however, he is back to being the professional showman and singer. Every song is nailed perfectly, not a note dropped or lyric forgotten. And his voice, that raspy, 20 fags a day sound is spot on.

Despite tonight being a celebration of the past, it also points that there’s a strong future for the band – their unique take on that classic Stones or Faces sound, rooted in the blues, R&B and Country will always have listeners. And with over a dozen albums behind them and the potential for a dozen more, so will The Quireboys.