Craig Chisholm reviews Happy Mondays/Fat Cops at The Music Hall – 24th Oct.
Madchester legends the Happy Mondays rolled back the years and brought the spirit of baggy and the halcyon days of the Hacienda Club to the Music Hall in an enjoyable and entertaining set.
The evening’s mood was set with an interesting set by support act, Fat Cops.
Their name may not be familiar but some of their faces were – comedian Al Murray was on drums and the guitarist, Bobby Bluebell, is the writer of Scottish pop classic and number 1 hit “Young at Heart” by The Bluebells.
And, just to add to the surreal line up, the keyboard player is originally from Huntly. Oh, and he and happens to be married to Harry Potter author JK Rowling.
Fortunately, their music is decent enough to fend off any accusations of a mid-life crises. Their blend of funk, rock, soul and dance music is catchy and memorable.
Tracks such as ‘Rock Star’, ‘Dehydrated’ and ‘Hot Tub’ quickly draw a healthy crowd through from the bar and earn themselves a few new fans in the process.
With the house lights dimmed and thumping dance music playing in the half hour after Fat Cops leave the stage, the atmosphere for Happy Mondays is reaching boiling point by the time Happy Mondays come on.
Bounding to the lip of the stage and engaging in his signature “freaky dancing”, Bez is the undisputed star of the show.
Not quite as svelte as he used to be, he still manages to dance non-stop throughout the set whilst engaging with the crowd – whether posing for photos wearing a bucket hat that has been thrown on stage or reaching up to the balcony to shake hands with punters.
Lead vocalist, Shaun Ryder, is much less animated but still as compelling as ever.
Hidden behind dark sunglasses and a baseball cap he’s a lot more enigmatic. However, his between song banter is casual and relaxed – although he seems to be constantly looking to a video prompter for lyrics and to find out what song is next.
His voice may not be as it once was but he still has that star quality.
The rest of the band, including Shaun’s brother Paul on bass, is tight, with original backing singer Rowetta making up for any slight misgivings in Shaun’s vocals through her powerful performance.
The set list is comprehensive and trawls through the Mondays classic catalogue – ‘Dennis and Lois’, ‘Kinky Afro’, ’24 Hour Party People’ and ‘Loose Fit’ are all given an airing.
Undisputed highlights, however, are ‘Step On’, ‘Hallelujah’ and a banging ‘Wrote for Luck’.
A great performance by a great band who, despite their well-documented years of excess, still have the energy and enthusiasm to get the crowd excited.
Duncan Harley takes a tour of the newly refurbished Aberdeen Art Gallery
It rained and there was a bag search on the way in to the gallery space, but fortunately we had arrived late and there was no queue. The drenched security operatives cheerfully let me through since I had no bag and just a stick.
A cursory glance into my companion’s crowded handbag convinced them that she was no una-bomber and off we went to see the pictures.
It was day one of the re-opening of the newly refurbished Aberdeen Art Gallery and a tiny sense of foreboding clouded the event – the renovation had included the discovery of plague skeletons – there were 92 of them.
And the original quite splendid white-marbled staircase had it seems been consigned to the dustbin of history.
Clutching our, now soggy, Eventbrite passes we made our way into what might once have been a familiar space.
Various dog-tagged staffers welcomed us into the new space. Commemorative tin-badges were handed out and a quite splendid map detailing the various new gallery spaces immediately made clear that the old, and perhaps dowdy, gallery space had gone to that dusty place where such things go to die.
Seven years and £35m in the making, the new interior is quite breath-taking.
Where the staircase stood, there is now an open central space linking three floors.
Not an atrium in the true sense but not far off in terms of lighting, and acoustically splendid.
Opening morning was accented by a set of coloured musical notes titled ‘The Big Picture’. By Judith Weir – a formidable composer with Boston Symphony and various operas under her belt.
Conducted by John Horton and directed by Roger Williams, the celebratory piece, written specially for the opening of the gallery, took the form of a synaesthesia where listeners were invited to experience five colour-themed movements (Green, Blue, Gold, Red/White and finally Colour) in a cantata for two choirs plus an instrumental ensemble spread amongst the gallery floors.
The resulting sound experience was quite breath-taking, especially when heard for the very first time in a public space.
As Judith’s Big Picture gently reverberated around the building, we headed for the upper floor before making our way down the staircase and through the various new gallery spaces.
There are thankfully a few familiar images amongst the thousand or so exhibits. Eric Auld, Joseph Farquharson, Glasgow Boys and Monet feature. But in the main, the new space is full of new pleasures and a somewhat brave set of decisions.
Photography is allowed – and why should it not be. Accessibility has also been splendidly addressed and the artwork on display boldly embraces most tastes.
Tracey Emin vies with George and George. Martin Parr vies with the old masters who painted Finzean sheep and Victoria’s kilted Albert. And a multitude of previously unseen works inhabit the walls, Dick Turpin amongst them.
And the justice on the cake? The new gallery is free to enter and as often as you like. All we need now is an Aberdeen Museum.
Duncan Harley is author of two books about the North-east of Scotland. Both – The A-Z of Curious Aberdeenshire and The Little History of Aberdeenshire – are available from Amazon.
Craig Chisholm reviews Alice Cooper / The Stranglers / MC50 @ P&J Live, Aberdeen
It was a night of firsts in Aberdeen as the new P&J Live arena held its debut gig. and rock legend Alice Cooper visited the city for the first time in his near half century career.
Also celebrating 50 years are opening act MC50. This is the current name for original MC5 guitarist Wayne Kramer’s touring act which is celebrating the seminal US proto-punk classic album ‘Kick Out the Jams’.
The band is a who’s who of underground and alternative rock legends – as well as Kramer on guitar and vocals there’s Faith No More’s Billy Gould on bass, Soundgarden guitarist Kim Thayil, Fugazi drummer Brendan Canty and on vocals, Marcus Durant of the band Zen Guerrilla who have released albums on feted records labels such as Alternative Tentacles and Sub Pop.
If the line-up of the band is jaw dropping then the music is even more so. Rock staples such as ‘Rambling Rose’ and the aforementioned ‘Kick Out The Jams’ are electrically charged and life affirming.
In these politically charged times it’s essential to have politically aware bands and MC5 are the originals.
It’s an honour to see them. Essential listening for anyone not familiar with these classic Detroit rock legends.
Middle of the three band bill is another legendary act. The Stranglers need no introduction; such is their legacy and body of work.
It’s a tight, 11 song set lasting 50 mins they perform, filled with classics.
Massive hits such as ‘Golden Brown’, ‘Peaches’ and ‘No More Heroes’ pepper the set, along with rockers such as ‘(Get a) Grip (On Yourself)’ and ‘Hanging Around’ and their cover of Dionne Warwick’s ‘Walk on By’.Dressed in black and minimally lit the band give a masterclass in understatement that provides a suitable juxtaposition to the headliners performance.
There’s no subtlety or understatement in Alice Cooper’s performance – its pure overblown theatre from the moment he walks on stage.
Dressed theatrically in top hat and leather he strides on stage in front of a giant castle wall backdrop.
The show is pure pantomime and schlock horror, bombastic and supersized.
Giant babies stride the stage; corpse brides interact with Alice; slasher flicks are performed; canons are fired and, in an elaborate set piece, Alice himself is beheaded on a guillotine.
It’s an elaborate stage show – pure theatre. The horror is, thankfully, tongue in cheek and is well staged without being too bloody or trying too hard to shock.
It’s a fun crowd pleasing show that would have got everyone talking.
Fortunately, however, there’s some good music behind
Tracks such as the brooding ‘Poison’. the air-punching ‘No More Mr. Nice Guy’ and the raw rock of ‘Under My Wheels’ are catchy and melodic.
‘I’m Eighteen’ is a singalong anthem; and the closer, ‘School’s Out’ is such a rock staple that even non-Alice Cooper fans must know it.
His band are virtuosos – expert enough in their playing to be able to ham it up and add to the theatrics whilst simultaneously providing a tight musical performance.
Guitarist Nita Strauss is particularly eye catching as she plays stunning guitar solos and flings her guitar around, looking every inch the rock god(ess) and living up to her nickname of Hurricane. It’s a fun show and it’s one that every rock music fan should catch at least once.
As for the new venue, it is also a success – it’s large enough to not feel crowded but not large to feel dwarfed; queues to get in are handled well and getting food, drink or merchandise is easy.
It’s going to be hard to top the opening night for P&J Live but with Lewis Capaldi, Liam Gallagher, Catfish & The Bottlemen and The 1975 all booked to perform in coming months, there’s certainly going to be a few trying.
Craig Chisholm reviews Gary Numan at The Beach Ballroom, Aberdeen, 27th Sept 2019.
Pop legend Gary Numan made a long overdue visit back to the Granite City to celebrate his (R)Evolution 40th anniversary tour.
It’s been over 35 years since he last played here and his wide-ranging set made up for the missing years by covering material from a vast amount of albums released in that time.
Ranging from his imperial phase 80s synth pop chart hits to the more brutal Nine Inch Nails inspired electro-gothic nihilism; his set provided a fascinating and diverse showcase of his talents.
Where before he seemed slightly withdrawn and deliberately robotic his stage presence has in the intervening years been honed and crafted to the point where is now a full blown rock god, at ease with himself and with his adoring crowd.
On stage he was never still – contorting his body and throwing shapes with his hands, conducting and leading the maelstrom of sound around him.
The choice of songs wide ranging – from the slow burning electro of ‘Absolution’, the industrial ‘sturm und drang’ of ‘Here In the Black’ or the surprising addition of an acoustic guitar to perform ‘My Breathing’ and final track of the night, Tubeway Army’s ‘Jo the Waiter’.
But it’s the big hits that most mainstream music fans will know him for and these are performed with aplomb and to rapturous appreciation by the crowd. His chart topping no.1 hits ‘Cars’ and ‘Are “Friends” Electric’ bring the house down and rightfully so.
Later 21st century period material such as opener ‘My Name is Ruin’ and ‘A Prayer for the Unborn’ receive the same amount of reception from the crowd as classic Numan cuts such as ‘Metal’ from 1979 album ‘The Pleasure Principle’.
At 61 years of age, Numan displayed the energy and commitment of someone half that age.
Here’s hoping that he returns north sooner than another 35 years’ time whilst that energy is still there.
Set list: My Name Is Ruin That’s Too Bad Desire Films Metal Absolution My Breathing Down in the Park The Promise Cars Here in the Black We Are Glass Call Out the Dogs A Prayer for the Unborn Are ‘Friends’ Electric?
Encore: My Shadow in Vain It Will End Here Intruder Jo the Waiter
Now in its 5th year Aberdeen’s True North Festival has long since proved itself to be the most entertaining, eclectic and rewarding event in the music calendar for the North East of Scotland.
Its wide range of events and artists have started to draw in the crowds from afar.
Saturday night headliners, The Twilight Sad in particular attracted fans from across Europe and even as far afield as Australia, albeit via England.
Events kicked off with the now traditional Thursday night performance at the Lemon Tree – one which, quite literally, blew the roof off.
It’s a night of punk attitude and organised chaos as London alternative rock band Shame and hotly tipped up and coming Glaswegian band Rascalton entertained the crowds. Rascalton’s set is an engaging and entertaining blast of no-nonsense Clash inspired garage punk, soaked in Buckfast and Glaswegian street attitude.
They’ve already been hotly tipped by the NME as well as local and national press and it’s not hard to see why as they snarl, shout and pound through a adrenalin fuelled opening set. They’re back in Aberdeen on the 14th December at the Cellar – miss them at your peril.
Headliners, Shame share the same punk ethos backed up with boundless energy and enthusiasm.
The band are championed by the likes of Radio 6 Music DJ Steve Lamaq and contemporaries of bands such as Idles and Fontaines DC.
Frontman Charlie Steen is a blur of energy as he stalks the stage and dives into the crowd on numerous occasions.
And it’s on one of those occasions that he inadvertently brings the roof down by knocking tiles off the ceiling and into the crowd. The tiles are clutched like trophies by the hyperactive mosh pit as they lose themselves in a great energetic set.
Friday –thankfully – starts in a more laid back and relaxed fashion at the wonderful Tivoli Theatre with an opening set by the equally wonderful Martha Ffion.
The Irish born, Glasgow based songwriter runs through a set that’s influenced by classic songwriting, stirring dream pop and the shadow of Glaswegian indie stalwarts such as Belle and Sebastian. Her melodic, catchy songs would have won a few new converts on the night.
Wick rock band Neon Waltz are next up. They’ve already played True North in previous years so will not be strangers to a lot of the crowd. In that time they’ve matured in style and poise and have honed their stage craft, no longer naïve youngsters from the North of Scotland but a band capable of International appeal.
Headliner, Bill Ryder Jones is quite the veteran by now with over 20 years of experience at the still young age of 36.
He started playing with Merseyside rockers, The Coral as far back as 1996, when they formed, and was their guitarist for 5 albums, leaving in 2008.
Since then he has become an accomplished solo artist, standing on his own merits and releasing 5 solo albums and even scoring the music to a few short films. His sound is dreamy and expansive recalling, at times, the sonic adventures of shoegaze whilst still displaying his song writing talents.
From the Tivoli, it’s a quick walk up to the Lemon Tree for the evenings other main performance.
Originally to be headlined by BC Camplight, he had to pull out the day previous due to illness.
Fortunately, local treasure Kathryn Joseph volunteered to step in and perform a short opening set which allowed original opening act The Ninth Wave to step deservedly up to headliner status.
Kathryn should be no stranger to anyone in the Aberdeen music scene, or even to those further afield.
She cut her teeth locally working in The Lemon Tree, performing in bars and venues such as the Tunnels.
Her sparse, haunting minimalist music, consisting mainly of piano and vocals, has led to critical acclaim, winning the 2015 SAY awards album of the year, and to recognition by her contemporaries and her musical influences, even appearing on the bill for The Cure’s feted 2018 Hyde Park concert at the behest of Robert Smith.
As usual she doesn’t fail to deliver with an inspiring set of melancholic songs and her now trademark swear word heavy between song banter. A joy to behold, as was expected.
Headline band, The Ninth Wave transport the crowd back in time to the early 80s New Romantic Blitz Club, whilst pushing forward with their synth heavy retro-futurism.
Their sound and style may not be for anyone old enough to remember the likes of Soft Cell or Japan but their ice cool demeanour and ability to engage the crowd provides an entertaining and enlightening set. .
The weekend brings out the bigger events with both Saturday and Sunday’s early evening performances taking place at the newly refurbished Music Hall.
Headlining on Saturday is Scottish indie rock band The Twilight Sad. It’s a triumphant gig for them, almost a homecoming as lead singer James Graham is no stranger to the area, having members of his Mother’s family staying in the North East.
He looks and sounds genuinely thrilled to be performing at the Music Hall, telling stories of passing it as a youngster and promising to his Dad that he would play there one day.
The band have played various smaller venues in Aberdeen in previous years – working themselves up from the Tunnels and the late, lamented Moshulu through the Lemon Tree and now to here.
Powering through a set heavy on tracks from latest album ‘It Won/t Be Like This All The Time’ and featuring an touching cover of Frightened Rabbit’s ‘Keep Yourself Warm’, it’s an emotional and powerful set that steals the weekend.
Opening for The Twilight Sad are Aidan Moffat & RM Hubbert.
This is the penultimate performance of their collaboration before they return to their solo careers.
To be honest, the two of them can do no wrong whether together or apart and tonight’s show is a wonderful showcase of their respective talents, their eye for a melody and the lyrical genius of their songs.
As much as it’s great they’ll be back performing solo you have to hope that there’s a reformation in a few years which produces new material of an equally high standard.
Late night at the Lemon Tree is more dance orientated the euphoric rave of Free Love and the Electro pop of Self Esteem.
Free Love are an entertaining and engaging live act, refusing to be constrained behind a bank of synths and mixers like most acts of this style.
Flanked by a pair of ladies in robes and holding flowers, lead singer Suzi Rodden throws herself completely into the performance, dancing barefoot into the crowd, writhing on the bar and spreading the gospel of Free Love’s high-NRG utopian dance music. .
No less restrained, but less likely to bump into you and spill your pint whilst you’re at the back of the venue, are Self Esteem. The new project of former Slow Club singer and multi-instrumentalist Rebecca Lucy Taylor, the band is a move from her former indie folk act and into pure pop. Complete with choreographed dance moves, matching red outfits and loads of hooks and melody she easily wins over the Saturday night crowd and keep them dancing well past midnight.
There’s one more gig at the Lemon Tree and that’s late on Sunday night as Ibibio Sound Machine take to the stage.
Fronted by the colourful and flamboyant singer Eno Williams the band perform an impressive set of West African funk and electro. The clash of styles works well and their visual, eye catching style lends to the occasion, giving a cosmopolitan and worldly flair not usually seen in Aberdeen on a Sunday night.
Before that, at the Music Hall, the stars are out in force for a run through of Scottish rock and pop classics under the banner of Rip It Up Live!
Taking their name from the classic Orange Juice track and influenced by the 2018 National Museum of Scotland exhibition, an array of talented Scottish performers, both established and up-and-coming, run a through a 25 track set that covers everything from the Cocteau Twins to Simple Minds; Garbage to The Associates & from the Eurythmics to The Proclaimers it’s an entertaining and rewarding through Scottish pop history.
Curated by Radio DJ Vic Galloway, the all star cast includes TV presenter and frontman of The Skids, Richard Jobson, actress and legendry frontwoman of Altered Images, Claire Grogan, Del Amitri frontman Justin Currie, punk pioneers The Rezillos and many, many more.
Credit again for the festival must go to Aberdeen Performing Arts who have made it yet another weekend to remember. See you again in 2020!
Tally ho! I’m missing Aberdeen and want to visit. If anyone wants to add me as a guest to the Northsound Business dinner, I’m in. Tables are £1250, and it’s at the Marcliffe, as previously mentioned.
Richard Thompson turned 70, and threw the best birthday party/concert I’ve ever been to, or am likely to ever attend.
The Royal Albert Hall three-hour extravaganza was unlike any show ever assembled before.
The music was a masterpiece of curation. Folk music, early RT songs, Fairport, torch songs, epic rock and humour were all on show.
The multi-talented, marvellous Marc Ellington performed ‘The Bonnie Lass of Fyvie-o’ beautifully.
Where do we start with the Thompson family – Teddy was awesome; Kami stunning, and Linda was there. I eventually had to stop counting the many Thompsons present as the music took me away.
There were some soloists who I definitely will go out of my way to see in future. There must have been 20 people onstage by the final pieces. Harry Shearer was mind-blowing in his Spinal Tap Derek Smalls persona, performing the moving, elegant ‘She puts the bitch in Obituary’.
The entire Thompson clan sang one of my favourite-ever protest songs, ‘That’s enough’.
‘Cry me a River’ transported us to a different time. For the last two pieces, a final guest star emerged: David Gilmour. ‘Dimming of the Day.’ ‘Fat Old Sun.’ the talent on stage was unsurpassable, and when Gilmour and Thompson played together as Fat Old Sun reached its crescendo, I think I cried some happy tears. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=njeoAIX1Slw .
I’d been backstage for some pretty wonderful times at the RAH before, but I’d never seen a crowd anything like this before. Alas, I didn’t get to meet Mr Gilmour, whom I’m told I should meet. Maybe one day.
He also signed a photo and CD for Willows Animal Sanctuary,
In the bar it was Thompsons to the left of me. Thompsons to the right of me. Thompsons in front of me. Harry Shearer, Michael (RT’s remarkable percussionist), other stars, and Marc Ellington peppered among the partygoers.
I found myself next to Richard for a few minutes, and looking around at the lively, deliriously happy crew, I asked:
“So Richard, you going to do anything interesting for your birthday?”
We laughed – or I think he did. I believe he gets my sense of humour by now. If not, that’s going to be the last invite I get. But what a night; beyond uplifting. Happy Birthday Mr Thompson.
I never ask for autographs as a rule from anyone, but I did of Richard twice. Ruth MacPherson was a great friend to Aberdeen Voice; she was meant to come with me to see him play at the Music Hall years ago.
She was ill with lung cancer, and on the night, she wasn’t up to it, which saddened her greatly.
He signed her a cd which I passed to her, and I know she treasured it. He also signed a photo and CD for Willows Animal Sanctuary, helping raise funds. Guitar hero indeed.
Moving swiftly along – as I must rush to London Brewdogs now that the collaboration festival is live (they brew scads of new beers with other breweries and each bar gets a few different ones. And yes, I’m a shareholder).
Since I’ll be out sampling new brews, I’m turning this 199th Old Susannah column over to a very special guest.
Aberdeen Voice has obtained the secret diary of…. Damian Bates, former editor of Aberdeen Journals Ltd.
I’ve added a few historic notes to the diary entries so you can see what was going on in the world at the same time Master Bates penned his thoughts. I hope you enjoy reading Damian’s thoughts on his pal Trump and how he had death threats.
It would be wrong for me to question the minor ethical dilemma or two that arise.
THE SECRET DIARY OF DAMIAN BATES
16 October, 2019
Only 18 days before I, Damian Bates, will tell everyone at Northsound’s business dinner what a great guy my personal friend Donald J Trump is and how great my tome is! Sarah’s out shopping for the right dress and shoes (of course) for this great honour. Do you know I’ll be joining some of history’s great and good by speaking at this dinner? I, Damian Bates, will now be spoken of in the same breath as past speakers: Alastair Campbell, Lord Digby Jones and Ed Balls. I told some of my old colleagues about being asked and who the past speakers were, and they smiled and said I was a perfect fit. I got where I am by hard work, not by coincidence; I don’t believe in coincidences. Now here I am, a friend of Donald J Trump. Me, Damian Bates who coincidentally edited the only newspapers where Trump was coincidentally building the world’s greatest golf course! Me Damian, who was coincidentally married to Sarah, The Face of Aberdeen Beauty contestant who I coincidentally chose to be the face, and who I coincidentally married! Sarah who Donald J Trump then coincidentally chose to run his golf course, despite my Sarah not having a stitch of relevant experience. No, I don’t believe in coincidence me, just in plain hard work. And being in the right place at the right time. On reflection, I probably put one or two articles in the papers that praised the Menie golf course. But I only did that because it’s what people wanted. But the thing is, no one knows Donald J Trump like I do. He’s really just a nice, kind down-to-earth guy. If only everyone could know him as well as I do – they’d like him as much as this humble, hard-working newspaper editor does. I’m a family man, me. Did you see the photos on my Facebook page? I still get people saying they can’t believe it’s really me pictured at the White House and then at Air Force One! And my Ferrari – I mean really. Did you ever see a cooler car? I think it matches my sunglasses really well – I spent days picking out the right pair. And my haircut. It goes with the glasses, don’t you think? And my car. And now because my tome, Donald Trump The Real Deal is doing so well all over the world, Northsound Radio want me to speak at their business dinner this year! Time to get out my White House pen and start writing! I could hardly believe it when one of his aids gave me an official White House pen, it even has the presidential seal logo on it. If the metal clip on it says ‘made in China’ that just shows what a great businessman Donald J Trump really is. Now let’s get writing; I think I’ll comb through my diary to get some great anecdotes for my speech. What will be the high point? The time Trump got Eric and my great friend George Sorial, who’s also very close to Sarah, to move paintings around at Turnberry, or the fact Donald likes to eat KFC? Hard to tell which of those two is more of a show-stopper.
In other news …..
President Trump sends a letter to the Turkish president, telling him to ‘make a great deal’ or Trump will ‘crush’ Turkey’s economy. The letter continues ‘history will… look upon you as the devil if good things don’t happen.’
Today I did an interview with Northsound to promote my speaking at their business dinner in November about my tome! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SnQh6w2ere8&t=10s I revealed for the first time that I’ve had death threats – oh yes. Can you believe it? Death threats against a journalist! Against me! People have to respect reporters and editors; we’ve got integrity and we’re here to give you the news. I did tell the interviewer not to ask me what these threats were about or when, or ask when I reported them to the police or why I didn’t seem to have ever mentioned them before. I also explained ‘I was the captain of the ship; the ship was far more important than I was’, I said. I might have steered that ship towards the Menie Estate and away from any Trump critics (believe it or not he has some), but nothing more than any other editor whose wife works for Trump would have done. I thought one of the recording crew said something about ‘a rat leaving a sinking ship’ but I couldn’t be sure. I tell the interviewer there are many tomes out there that claim to tell readers what Donald Trump is REALLY like – but they are by people who haven’t even met him. How can you know what someone is like unless you have dinner with them at their club which your wife manages? It’s like when people write about Hitler or Pol Pot who never met them – what can such authors really know? My tome has it all – our phone calls, dinners, interviews – and what an impartial observer I am. Trump’s been honest with me and I’ve been honest with him. I might not have been honest to the readership of the P&J or EE about these dinners, phone calls and of course the wife’s job – but there you go. Some reporters just report about the things he says and does, like telling the Ukraine president to get him dirt on Biden, or sending Ivanka to high-profile international meetings, or saying journalists are the enemy of the people who should be roughed up. But he laughs and jokes, and is a great guy. Some people write that he yells at his staff and it’s chaos – but I never saw that, so it can’t be true. My tome will say that – he can be wrong sometimes! Ground-breaking!
In other news ….
At Trump’s insistence, the federal death penalty has been reinstated, despite evidence that innocent people given unfair trials have been convicted, some executed.
June 13, 2019 ( Damian Bates adds photo of him with Trump in the Oval Office to his Facebook page.)
Wow. I thought my Ferrari was really cool – but wait until my friends see this photo of me in the Oval Office while Trump sits at his desk! That’ll really impress everyone! Maybe I should put in my tome about the time I said ‘Mr Trump, sir, Donald – can I call you ‘DJ’?” He looked up at me from the TV and, get this – with more than a hint of his genius – he said ‘No.’
In other news ….
North Carolina man Craig Hicks, pleaded guilty to fatally shooting three Muslim university students back in 2015. The women’s father said the killings were part of rising bigotry against Muslims.
Prosecutors said Hicks had brandished a handgun to intimidate a Korean neighbour and a black remodelling worker. Relatives of the victims have asked federal authorities to charge Hicks with hate crimes.
Hate crimes have spiralled upwards since Donald Trump’s election.
Trump called for a ban on Muslims travelling to the US, which has an estimated 4-7 million-strong Muslim population. This was to be, in his words ‘…until we can figure out what the hell is going on.’
Trump recently offered to hire out US troops to Saudi Arabia, a nation with an appalling human rights record, implicated in the death of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi on 2 October 2018.
He was believed to have been dismembered while alive in Turkey in the Saudi consulate – the Saudis claim the murder, involving several Saudi agents and a bone saw, was ‘a spur of the moment’ event; an audio tape makes it abundantly clear it was premeditated. Trump refuses to listen to the evidence. newly-released-transcripts-tell-gruesome-moments-saudi-columnist
Five journalists at Maryland’s Baltimore Gazette are shot dead. This followed Trump’s repeated speeches casting journalists as purveyors of fake news and enemies of the people.
April 17, 2018 (Damian Bates adds photo of Air Force One to his Facebook page.)
The best day ever! It’s not every day a hard-hitting, honest newspaper man like me gets to hang around with his busy pal Donald J Trump and go to Air Force One, that’s the president’s plane by the way. Someone wanted Trump to sign some paperwork – but he said he was busy – with me! This is the kind of friendship we have, and that’s how I know the real Donald J Trump – a great guy who’s hardworking and as honest as I am. Must take home some of the Air Force One branded cups and sick bags for Sarah – she loves anything with a prestigious logo, like my Ferrari.
In other news …..
President Trump held off imposing sanctions against Russia for its backing Syria. Nikki Haley, then UN Ambassador for Trumpistan had announced the sanctions the day before.
The Washington post reported:
“The additional sanctions were expected as a response to Syria’s suspected chemical weapons attack. Moscow opposed the sanctions, and Trump didn’t sign the order. Haley had said Sunday on CBS News that the sanctions would target Russian companies linked to equipment used in the alleged chemical attack.
The last Scottish witch met a fiery end at Dornoch in 1727 ending what some saw as the domination of the devil in local affairs.
Smeared with tar following a short trial, Janet Horne was burned alive in a barrel following an accusation of consorting with the forces of darkness.
In 1950’s America however, the devil-incarnate took the form of McCarthyism – perhaps best defined as the practice of making accusations of subversion or treason without proper regard for evidence.
Many intellectuals, artistic folk and politicians fell afoul of the new inquisition. And Arthur Miller’s play The Crucible took an allegorical stab at that modern-day witch hunt against those accused of the crime ‘Un-American activities’ using the medium of the Salem Witch Trials of the 17th century.
And now, this no-holds barred portrayal of the overly-righteous paranoia that was McCarthyism is subject to fresh interpretation by Scottish Ballet.
Shocking in its intensity, this exquisite take on the witch-trial agenda dwells on the currency of falsely framed accusations, fearsome events and the power of inquisitors over life and death and morality.
Penned in the 1950’s and set in 1692, the familiar story is set among the Puritan colonists of Massachusetts. A backdrop of infidelity, a declaration that god is dead and a smidgeon of pagan ritual leads to accusations of witchcraft. And within a short timeframe events have spiralled terrifyingly out of control.
Alongside Peter Salem’s hauntingly edgy new score, American Helen Picket’s choreography shatters the myth of Puritanical purity.
Adolescents dance naked in the moonlight, farmer Proctor – Nicholas Shoesmith and servant Abigail – Constance Devernay frolic in the farmyard and voodoo makes an unwelcome appearance.
Nothing is as it seems and the fault lines of a wildly dysfunctional community are soon tested to destruction.
Simple staging accents the rawness of this tale of persecution and David Finn’s choice of gloomy lighting adds poignance throughout. This is no over-bearing stage-set.
Stark and poignant, this adaption of Miller’s play for dance sets a high bar indeed.
Choreographed by Helen Pickett and based on the play by Arthur Miller, The Crucible plays at His Majesty’s Theatre Aberdeen until Saturday 5 October.
Old Susannah rides back into Aberdeen, well, back onto Aberdeen Voice’s pages anyway, picking up where she left off, defining the terms that define the indescribable goings-on in the Deen and Shire. By Suzanne Kelly.
It’s been a while, but with all the exciting things going on in the dynamic and vibrant city of Aberdeen, I couldn’t stay away.
This column traditionally opens up with descriptions of what I’d been drinking and doing in BrewDog bars, so why not now? I’ve visited BrewDog Brighton (Drank my first Dog F – a rich, heady dark offering) and BrewDog Clerkenwell to enjoy Obzest – very citrusy and refreshing.
I never hid the fact I’m a shareholder. I’m glad I’m a shareholder. So are at least 100k other people.
I bring BrewDog up not just because I wish I were at the Flagship this minute, but because from the first time I owned shares and wrote about BrewDog, I told Aberdeen Voice’s readership.
To do otherwise would have been dishonest. And still we had complaints: I was writing about the biggest new thing in town, the UK’s fastest-growing drinks company started by two young men paying a living wage, making phenomenal brews, being politically active and irreverent.
No one ever has to pay to read Aberdeen Voice; and if you were a donor who didn’t like my offerings, then you could either stop donating or simply not read the bits you didn’t like.
If, however you were an Aberdeen Journals Ltd subscriber (there are still some apparently), you paid for years while being played – and not for small beer.
Damian Bates never told those buying the local rags he had a financial interest in Trump doing well in Scotland.
He kept quiet about his wife’s working for the toupèed toddler.
I sometimes wonder whether those who insisted I shouldn’t write about BrewDog ever insisted Damian shouldn’t be allowed to print dozens of pro-Trump advertorials and stories, while directly helping his family’s wallet?
Aberdeen Voice allowed my morally-indignant critics to have their say. Have you ever yet read a word in the P&J admitting this ethically challenged editor used the papers to firm up the Mrs.’s position under Trump? No, you never did.
Trump is a regular guy, as you’d find out if you buy a table
Tally ho! Northsound Radio is holding a business dinner – only £1250 per table at the 5 star Marcliffe Hotel and Spa (homophobic ‘jokes’ from the owner included at no extra charge).
Who got the huge honour of speaking? Why, Master Bates, who’ll tell the guests about his book and what Trump is really like (he hates fancy food).
It must be interesting to be a reporter who’s pals with a man whose hate speech has got reporters beaten and even killed. But Trump is a regular guy, as you’d find out if you buy a table.
This is nothing to do with Brexit, food shortages, rioting or the yellowhammer documents. I recommend a first aid kit, some BrewDog, and old unsold copies of the Evening Express for insulation and starting campfires.
Alas though! I’m upset for poor Prime Minister Johnson, who was slammed by the courts, ruling his closing Parliament was illegal. I’m so upset I can barely see through my tears. Now there’s a man who’d better get his emergency survival bag ready.
PS. I recommend Steve Coogan’s latest offering, Hot Air. One reason I wanted to see it was to see Declan Michael Laird. I’ve written about this young Scots actor in the past and things are starting to go, deservedly, extremely well for him.
The highlight as expected is Coogan’s soliloquy: he plays a cynical, manipulative right-wing DJ. In his speech he describes virtually all our current societal, governmental, media failings.
I didn’t have any preconception of what Declan would be doing in this – but he’s wonderfully hilarious as a wealthy young Russian trustafarian living in Coogan’s uber-rich building. Hot Air is well worth your time.
Herewith some definitions
Exploitation: (Noun) Taking something of value from a source and profiting considerably more than the source does.
Friday was some kind of climate protest day, and I’m sick of the exploitation of children by adults who have selfish motives.
It’s awful to see young people who don’t understand the real world being manipulated to the point they care more about species extinctions, plastic entering the food chain, unprecedented climactic events -when they should care about clothes and getting rich.
How would you feel if your child went on some rally when they should be safe at school?
Or unless they were in a school where politicians entered at will without any permission or vetting, like when Alex Salmond descended on Bramble Brae Primary with his team.
Since that happened, Mr Salmond had sex abuse charges leveled at him. Just like his friend Donald Trump. No, no reason to get clearance people who want to wander into schools to take pictures.
Or there was the time a bunch of suits and Sarah Malone took photos of young people in their new Trump International football strips.
The shire told The Ferret’s Rob Edwards years ago the shirts were in line with policy (even though it really wasn’t true).
You might think that’s old news. However, the shire told me a different story recently: they now say the shirts were nothing to do with them after all, but a private group of parents organised it. Parents who were allowed to go into what certainly looks like school property and photograph students – with a couple of besuited men with them.
For marketing and promoting a private business. Owned by a man with US mob and Russian ties, accused of sexual crimes. That seems to be OK too.
In the same way the police release photos when trying to solve a crime, I want to know: who are these people? Does everyone in this photo have DBS clearance to be hanging around young people? Did they get permission to use this gym in their wonderful photos?
Aberdeenshire doesn’t care but I do.
Yes, keep the students in school; a day away to exchange ideas and support each other over their future is far less important than whether Sarah Malone wants a photoshoot or Salmond wants to boost a candidate.
Maybe Aberdeen Voice should just print up some t-shirts for the frisbee team, head to a school, and take photos of kids holding up AV shirts? I’m sure the shire would have no problem with that.
he does know his Nazi regalia, I’ll give him that
If young people have to be out of school for some ‘environmental’ reason, then it should be for something practical. Like planting marram grass to stabilizes Menie’s moving sand dune system.
The shire insisted the planting was approved by educational environmental bods. I found out that was not remotely true. But at least the photos of the kids planting the grass that ruined the dunes were lovely; I’d not be surprised to find the EE was selling prints for a tenner, as they do.
All this climate change talk is obscuring what’s really important in this life: how you look.
Sexy Dinesh Dsouza reckons Greta Thunberg’s braids mean she’s emulating an old Nazi poster of a child in braids (he does know his Nazi regalia, I’ll give him that). Somehow he objects to Danish student Greta looking Nordic – she should do something about that.
And those braids – so very traditional and childish; almost like she was a young person or something.
The teen certainly needs fashion advice too: there are so many exciting styles coming out of third world sweatshops (Ivanka can give some pointers here as she owns so many – speaking of pointers did you see her tasteful blue shirt worn t the UN?).
Perhaps anti-bullying champion Melania can serve as a role model too. I wonder where that jacket she wore on her way to visit caged refugee children got to, you know that one that said ‘I really don’t care do you?’ That would look so cool on Greta.
Finally, a bit more orange make up would put some colour in Greta’s cheeks too don’t you think – get rid of that ‘Nordic’ look? Trump could make a recommendation or two here I think. Kids today, eh?
Rent: (Noun or verb) A fee paid by a tenant to occupy real estate. Unless you’re the P&J renting from ACC.
It’s only taken about four months for ACC to partially answer my freedom of information request on what Aberdeen Journals Ltd is paying to be in Marischal Square. You know, I think they’re getting faster.
Why would anyone think that ACC was giving AJL a free ride or sweet deal on rent? Maybe it was the talk at the time, the odd article or two, or the fact Bates put out an email denying it was remotely possible.
Here’s two findings from my FOI: I’m sure this all sound as legit and believable to you as it does to me:
“Aberdeen City Council personnel, Chief Executive, Elected Officials and staff have NOT accepted any discounts, hospitality, gifts, favours from Aberdeen Journals Ltd and its companies for the period 1 January 2017 through the present day (Sept 19).”
So for nearly two years, not a soul at ACC took so much as a free lunch, newspaper, paperweight, pen, calendar, theatre tickets, dinner for three years and nine months. Wonder at the fact-checking here.
The Council wrote:
“The headline rent paid per square metre paid by AJL at Marischal Square is £322.92.”
And just exactly what is headline rent?
Headline Rent: (Compound noun) Rent paid under a lease after the end of any rent free or reduced rent periods. It is an artificially inflated rent which ignores the rent-free period or any other concessions given by the landlord to the tenant in return for a higher headline rate.
So.. from the definition, we can conclude AJL got some kind of a sweet deal for at least a while.
Who would have guessed – and what was it exactly? (I’m on it).
By the way, looking at city centre commercial rents on large properties the £332.92 per square metre per annum hardly looks like an inflated rate at all – it looks average.
If the city says this figures is a headline rent it means AJL was definitely paying less than the average going rate for a brand new building. And of course, there is nothing unethical about a newspaper cozying up to government, just because the press is supposed to serve as a check on government.
Someone needs to tell Damian Bates.
When the move was still being discussed, he sent an email:
“.. it is not correct to suggest there is any ‘state aid’ around any potential deal…” (But there was – otherwise no headline rent).
He continued in this July 2016 email:
“… we have not sought nor will we be seeking anything with the council subsidizing our lease…”
Whether they asked for it or not – looks like they got it. Here’s to Aberdeen: home of the world’s most generous taxpayers.
But why be upset? It’s not as if your tax money has been used to support Scotland’s most pro-Trump mainstream news vehicle. It’s not as if that newspaper took money off you every time you wanted a P&J or EE to line the canary’s cage, while hiding Bates’ personal financial link to Trump?
If you ever have awkward questions about the city’s dealings (maybe while you’re wondering why they’re charging you £30 a year now for green waste), you can just call the local press with your scoop. They’ll be right on it I’m sure.
PS. the City has recently taken out a few more million plus pound loans. Result!
Math quiz: Select an answer from (A) through (D):
If AJL has 19,000 square feet (which is 1765.15 square metres) and is now paying £322.92 per square metre (presumably per annum) and paid a lower figure previously, then:
(A) the cost is £570,000 per year; (B) aren’t we taxpayers generous; (C) they got a very good deal initially to be paying headline rent that is around the city average – did the taxpayer get left holding the bag again; or (D) all of the above.
The bottom line? We can rely on the City to get best value for taxpayer money and to be transparent with its taxpayers, and on AJL papers for unbiased, investigative reporting. Well at least to the same standards we’ve become accustomed to.
I have much more to say, so there’ll be a further column or ten – that’s either good or bad news depending on your perspective. But I see the word count increasing, and with it the editor’s patience decreasing. More soon.
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Aberdonians have an unfair reputation for being cold and tight-fisted.
Those of us who live here know that is a false stereotype. We are kind and quietly confident. We don’t need to brag and show off. We already know what’s what.
The bonds of friendship between Aberdeen and Japan have long been in the making.
However, shared connections like Thomas Blake Glover ( the Scottish Samurai), long celebrated in Japan, are only now being recognised in Scotland after a century of history has passed.
Ronnie Watt OBE, ORS has been one of the most robust links with our city and Japan since the days of Glover. A link verified by the Japanese when they awarded him the Order of the Rising Sun, an award previously bestowed on Glover, making Ronnie the 2nd Scottish Samurai.
Ronnie is a 9th Dan Karate master who has taught Karate in Aberdeen and around Scotland and abroad for over 50 years. 25 years ago, Ronnie also founded and organised the prestigious Scottish Samurai Awards to recognise the often unnoticed efforts and achievements of people from all walks of life.
The self-funding awards are supported by his Karate, donations and the hard work of the awards committee.
Last weekend, 15 school-children from Nagasaki, Japan. visited Aberdeen
Ronnie organised home-stays for them in Aberdeen with many of his friends and karate-ka. These children experienced a fantastic jam-packed weekend of Scottish culture and history.
The weekend began with the Lord Provost welcoming the children and their host families with a Civic Reception in the Aberdeen Town House.
They then visited the town centre, Dunnottar Castle, Stonehaven, Drum Castle and Crathes. On Saturday they spent the day at the Lonach Gathering – an extraordinary experience, especially if you are from Japan.
The children and families were accompanied by Ronnie and the Consul General of Japan and Lord Charles Bruce. They were welcomed into the arena by the master of ceremonies Robert Lovie and introduced to the Lonach audience with the pipes resounding in the background.
On Sunday night the tour ended with a private party hosted by Pauline Dreelan.
The party began with Ronnie’s Aberdeen children giving a demonstration of Karate. The Japanese then joined in a bit of ceilidh dancing with Charlie Abel from Iron Broo Ceilidh Band providing the music on his accordion. The children loved the Scottish music and dancing and took to it like a duck to water.
One parent of the families commented on how much she enjoyed the company of the Japanese children during the stay.
“They were so polite, and I will miss them. I was in tears when they left. It was very emotional. One of them was so fascinated by everything here, and they even took photos of what was in my fridge!”
It is not our differences that define us. It’s our humanity that unites us.
On Monday morning the groups met up for a tearful goodbye at Aberdeen Airport.
This is the second such visit that Ronnie has organised for the Japanese in Aberdeen. The visits have become a pilgrimage recreating the historic trips of the Japanese students organised by Glover.
The students who visited Scotland over a century ago on Glover’s behalf, went on to modernise Japan and transformed it into one of the worlds most important economies. Glover and his students are celebrated and credited in Japan as the fathers of the new age of industry.
Who knows what might come of these modern-day trips, a century later?
A bit of the Deep South came to the Far North as Kentucky rockers, Black Stone Cherry took their Family Tree tour to the Music Hall in Aberdeen. The sold out date could almost be described as an intimate show as the band are more likely to be seen in much larger venues nowadays.
Dates last year included a headline slot at the cavernous Hydro in Glasgow and as main support to the mighty Guns n’ Roses at the 80,000 capacity Download festival.
Just days after their trip to the Granite City and they are, in fact, headlining another festival, the Ramblin’ Man Fair, in front of 15,000 adoring fans – 10 times the number that are packed liked sardines into tonight’s sold out show. But before the band take to the stage there’s the matter of a couple of up and coming support acts for the crowd to digest.
Coming on stage as the stragglers are still filtering through the main doors of the venue were another set of Kentucky rockers – the hirsute, rootsy rockers, Otis. Their short 30 minute set was a mix of blues and classic rock heavily sprinkled with lots of Southern fried boogie.
In front of a surprisingly busy Music Hall – considering the early stage time – they won over the crowd quite easily with their infectious rock n’ roll. Definitely a band to watch out for in the future.
Next up, The Kris Barras Band are a heavier proposition. The Devon born guitarist plays stripped back, no nonsense rock n’ roll. Searing bluesy guitar solos and raucous, soaring tracks showcase his talents and undeniable skills.
Judging by the amount of t-shirts bearing his name in the audience then the time to watch him is now, with no waiting around for the future. With a new album out in September expect to see more coverage of him and his band in the press and airwaves and, crucially, in the live environment where he belongs.
Black Stone Cherry come onstage to a rapturous reception by the devoted audience.
Opening with the thunderous ‘Me and Mary Jane’ the band plough through a 16 song set that lasts an hour and a half and doesn’t let up at any point. The energetic first few songs see guitarist Ben Wells and bassist Jon Lawhon run around the stage hyperactively, swapping sides and hanging over the crowd, working them into a mad frenzy.
Lead vocalist and guitarist Chris Robinson has to raise his voice to be heard over the adoring crowd who sing the songs word for word. And, stage rear, drummer John Fred Young tosses and catches his drumsticks in the air but anchors the maelstrom with his thunderous rhythms and pin point accurate beats.
After a few songs the band have to catch a breath, lest they collapse with exhaustion. He tells the crowd that they headlined a show at a castle in Wales last night and they wondered how they could top that tonight but, as he says:
“We remembered we were coming to Scotland.”
This wins over the crowd even further – not that they needed to by this point – and sets the tone for the rest of the show.
They’re a band that care about their fans and engage with the crowd.
There’s plenty of clap-a-longs and call and response interaction. They even call out, by name, a fan in the front row that had been petitioning online for them to start playing a deep cut from an old album – and, of course, they play it live tonight for him.
Songs from all eras of the band’s history are played – from 2006’s eponymous debut right up to the latest album ‘Family Tree’.
A rollicking cover version of Johnny Cash’s ‘Folsom Prison Blues’ is segued seamlessly into from their own track ‘Hollywood in Kentucky’ and massive singalongs such as ‘Blame it on the Boom Boom’ are dispatched flawlessly and confidently in front of the awe struck crowd.
It’s a triumphant performance by a band at the peak of their powers –and the there’s no doubt the adoring crowd realised this and appreciated it accordingly.
Black Stone Cherry set list:
Me and Mary Jane Burnin’ Blind Man In My Blood Bulldozer Soulcreek Bad Habit Hollywood in Kentucky / Folsom Prison Blues My Last Breath Cheaper to Drink Alone Ain’t Nobody Blame It On The Boom Boom White Trash Millionaire Lonely Train Family Tree