May 242017
 

Review and Photographs by Dod Morrison.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bruce also changed costumes to suit the songs.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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May 192017
 

Duncan Harley reviews Wonderland at His Majesty’s Theatre, Aberdeen.

A hard-working cast make this Musical an entertaining and at times a truly magical experience.

When Lewis Carroll ran an early draft of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland past fellow fantasy writer George MacDonald of Huntly, neither man could have had the remotest idea that the tale would still have currency some 150 years on.
The original story-line has seemingly never been out of print and literally hundreds of adaptations have emerged from a myriad of genres over the years.

Film, stage and parody head the long list; with comic book, opera and even Xbox 360 take-ons not far behind.

Herein lies a huge problem. Inevitably, reinterpretations trading on the back of this classic tale of literary nonsense will invite comparison with Carroll’s original.

If the Cheshire Cat fails to grin cheesily enough or if there are too few tarts at the tea party then heads will invariably roll.

Happily, theatre audiences are not as fickle as literary critics and if the stand-up-ovation enjoyed by the cast of Wonderland at HMT last Tuesday is anything to go by, then this latest anthropomorphic adaptation has ticked many of the boxes.

With Britain’s Got Talent Finalist Rachael Wooding as Alice and Coronation Street’s Wendi Peters playing the Queen of Hearts this musical is off to a stomping start. Add in Dave Willetts of Phantom fame as White Rabbit and Natalie McQueen as the Mad Hatter and things can only get better.

And get better they do. From shaky beginnings, down to the script and not to the cast, Wonderland soon gets into its stride.

Alice, in this adaptation, is a divorced single mum who after five years of separation clings to the past and, despite admirable encouragement from teen-daughter Ellie, is experiencing what can only be termed an extreme bad-hair-day.

Aside from losing her beau, she has lost her job and some scumbag has pinched her car. Ellie (Naomi Morris) and love-interest Jack (Stephen Webb) are at pains to comfort the stressed-out Alice but to no avail.

Predictably, a white rabbit appears and they all head downwards in a council high-rise lift to meet with the entire Lewis Carroll cast including a talking mirror. After typical Alice type adventures, the heroine is bundled through the looking-glass and her life takes a turn.

The musical numbers here are great, the dialogue is perhaps not so. At points I almost expected a harassed Compere to rush on stage to ask the audience if there was a scriptwriter in the house.

Music and movement is where this production is at. With around twenty numbers packed into two hours there is plenty for all including pounding rock, laid back jazz and heart-warming duets.

A hard-working cast make this Musical an entertaining and at times a truly magical experience. By the final curtain one could almost imagine an appreciative Dickens clapping softly from the Gods.

Directed by Lotte Wakeham and adapted from the works of Lewis Carroll, Wonderland plays at HMT Aberdeen until Saturday 20th May.

Tickets from Aberdeen Performing Arts Tel: 01224- 641122

– Words © Duncan Harley and Images © APA

May 182017
 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Opening the night are Manchester five piece Pins.

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

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

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

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

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

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May 142017
 

By Red Fin Hall.

Inevitable changes were made, with Peter Pawlett and Ryan Jack both injured, and Ryan Christie ineligible to play.
Anthony O’Connor made a rare start in midfield, whilst, surprisingly top scorer Adam Rooney was benched, and his place taken by Jayden Stockley.

A decent crowd  turned up for this Friday evening game.

This was the final game of the season at home, the final BT commentary by locally born Derek Rae, the last game that Niall McGinn and possibly Ash Taylor in front of the home fans, and my final match report for The Aberdeen Voice.

The haar was beginning to hang about as referee Stephen McLean got the match underway. Minutes in, Joe Lewis was called upon to make a decent save from Patrick Roberts after he got the better of Andy Considine. From the resultant corner taken by Leigh Griffiths, Dedryck Boyata headed the ball into the net for the visitor’s first goal. A perfect start for Celtic, not so for The Dons.

0-1

Seven minutes later, Callum Mcgregor fired a ball which Shay Logan blocked well, but Stuart Armstrong reacted quickly and flicked the ball into the net. The defence didn’t seem to be coping at all well with the pace of the champions.

0-2

Just as the fans were still shaking their heads over the state of things, Leigh Griffiths fired a shot from all of 25 yards out. Lewis made a bit of a hash of things, opting to try and palm it away instead of holding it, but he could only look on helplessly as the ball ended up crossing the line for goal number 3.

0-3

Things didn’t look good for the injury hit men in red, and one two fans, even this early, decided to call it a day. More fool them.

These ‘supporters’ would have barely left the confines of Pittodrie when, man of the match, Jonny Hayes, shot in the goal of the game, curling the ball in from outside the penalty area on the right, and straight into the top left hand corner. Much to the dismay of keeper Craig Gordon.

1-3

From such a poor and inauspicious start, in a game that means nothing other than pride, the match was pretty much turned on it’s head by this.

Moments later a fine and deep cross from Kenny McLean found the unmarked Stockley. His back post header should have gone into the net, but the tall striker’s attempt went inches wide of the target.

Aberdeen had their danders up, and kept the pressure on the team from Glasgow, with their defence, in my opinion, having to work the hardest they have had to domestically this season.

20 minutes in. first Hayes had a go, testing Gordon, then Graeme Shinnie had a shot, which he maybe should have hit better. Ten minutes later, McGinn forced the Scotland keeper to concede a corner. The Northern Irishman took the set piece himself, but Taylor could only head the ball into the side netting.

It wasn’t one way traffic though, and Mark Reynolds, then McLean had to look sharp to deny the visitors adding to their tally. Boyata still looked dangerous when up front.

Defender Jozo Simunovic looked a bit slack, and McLean should have at least hit the target. Instead his curling, left foot shot went wide. A free kick to the Dons just 2 minutes before half time was cleared forward by the visitors, and it ended up at the feet of Scott Sinclair. But the player of the year had the ball taken off of him by the persistent Hayes.

Half time: 1-3

As the match resumed, Aberdeen continued their positive and determined play as Shinnie chased after a nothing ball and won a corner. Considine then put in a low and fierce cross into the area, but it was too hard and McGinn just couldn’t make contact with it.

The next incident provided the only real moment of controversy of the evening. The referee spoilt a pretty flawless shift from himself when he denied the home team what looked, to all intent and purpose, to be a stonewall penalty. Shinnie was running through at pace to get to a blocked Logan shot when Gordon impeded him. If it had been the other way round, no doubt a foul at least would have been given. This is not the first time that the Celtic keeper has been lucky to escape punishment this season.

Four minutes later an effort by Anthony O’Connor in a crowded box came to nothing. The flag was up for offside in any case.

Celtic had a bit more of the play for a spell, but the Aberdeen defence had well recovered from their period of sleeping by now, and handled things quite admirably.

McLean should have scored a second goal and therefore really tested Celtic’s mettle when he received a pass from, surely next season’s captain, Shinnie. However, instead of aiming for the bottom corner, he chose, puzzlingly, to send it screaming over the bar and into the Richard Donald stand.

With only 20 minutes left the game turned a tad scrappy, and the only chance of note was a snap shot from McGinn which went high. Even pushing Taylor up front, and trying to break down the defence with high balls, pointless considering the height of the visitor’s defenders, failed to produce.

History was made with just 3 minutes of the allocated 4 of stoppage time left, Aberdeen schoolboy, Dean Campbell, made his first team debut, becoming the youngest player to feature for the Dons. Hope he doesn’t go the way of the previous record holder, Fraser Fyvie, and depart the club too soon.

The game ended, and the fans stayed to give the players a standing ovation.

With two games left before the Scottish Cup Final, both away from home, first to The Rangers midweek, and then back down to Glasgow to play Partick Thistle, two fighting perfomances like that will surely stand us in good stead for the trip back to Glasgow for the final.

Final score: 1-3

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May 122017
 

By Fin Hall.

Back in the mists of time, just before punk raised it’s challenging head, there existed in Rosemount Viaduct a clothes shop that sold jeans and the like. This business was called Happy Trails, possibly named after a record by an American band who went under the name of Pure Prairie League.

In the back section of the premises, by the changing rooms if my memory serves me right, there was situated a couple of stands that sold second hand long playing records, or as they are fashionably known now, vinyl.

This part of the store was run by a very affable young man who originally came from Edinburgh. This man is called Raymond Bird.

After serving his time there, as it were, he decided to open up his own shop just a short distance up the road from Happy Trails. Taking his two record stands with him, he started selling new releases, and, as punk took off, t-shirts etc.

I had been friends with Ray for some time, and it was during this period of time that I helped him out on Saturdays in the shop, which all know as One Up. We were a tight band of people working there, as well as myself and Ray, there was Debbie, a lady who stuck with him all through the different locations of One Up, and a young proper punk lad called, Scars. I can’t remember his proper name.

Debbie, who was quiet and very friendly, and often Ray’s business rock, had no apprehensions about passing the odd scathing comment on the choice of record that a customer might be purchasing. Meanwhile Scars, who looked every bit the youth of the time with his sticky up hair and his leather jacket with his name painted on the back, was ever polite to the customers. 

We were both in our twenties at the time, and he often confided in me that he was only be going to do this until he was thirty.

I remember having One Up’s first anniversary and my birthday party as a joint do in the upstairs of the also now defunct, East Neuk.

As the guests started to arrive, the owner of the bar was showing signs of great consternation and concern. The leather jackets, bright clothing and safety pins and bondage trousers worn by a good proportion of the young people, fairly scared him. He thought that trouble was on the horizon. It took some persuading by the two of us to let the party go ahead. But afterwards he thanked us and told us we were the best behaved bunch of people he had had there.

Being the punk era, and being skint, we provided the food ourselves and we both acted as dj’s on a borrowed set of decks, with records from the shop and from my collection.

As business got better, he decided to open a second shop over in George Street. And this is where long term business partner Fred Craig came in. A man I have known even longer than I have known Ray. He told me he was going to offer Fred the running of this new venture over me as, rightfully, due my family commitments, I was a single parent at the time, I couldn’t be full time. I already had cut back working in the Rosemount shop.

Ray still insisted that he was only going to keep the business going until he was 40;

This shop took off, and before long they decided to amalgamate the two shops under one roof in Diamond Street. Such was the success, that they soon needed even bigger premises, and thus the legendary One Up in Belmont Street was born. The staff continued to espouse the tight, friendly (at times), and knowledgeable style that was always synonymous with this wonderful music shop.

When it closed in 2013, Ray had turned 60.

Why this bout of, no, not nostalgia, but history you may ask?

Well recently I was in 17 Belmont Street, looking at their contribution to the Look Again art festival.

It has been transformed into an imaginary record store called, Record Store.

“Record Store is a curated project created by visual artists Chris Biddlecombe and Janie Nicoll, aka Obstacle Soup. It is a hybrid fictional record store interior that is the result of a collaboration involving the creation of over 60 fictional record cover artworks and poster works by a range of Scottish artists each of whom have a strong interest in or connection to music making.

Previously shown in record shops, Record Store in Aberdeen takes the records into the gallery, adds work by 12 artists connected to the north east to the existing 25 artists’ previous installations.

Exploring ideas of authorship and fiction, art and merchandise, shared histories, and sound and performance interpreted through the visual, the project places the artwork at the centre of the action, while the music remains entirely in the viewer’ s head.

Record Store is also a celebration of the underground and the ‘grassroots’; the fertile ground of cross-pollination between visual arts and music that has so influenced Scotland’s cultural scene, and in which independent record stores have played such an important role. Seventeen, the creative hub and exhibition space in Belmont Street was formerly the much-loved One Up Records.” – From Look Again Festival website.

I was asked to share my memories of One Up, so I thought I would share them with you all too.

Record Store is open until May 27.

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May 122017
 

With thanks to Martin Ford.

Long-serving councillor Martin Ford was re-elected last Thursday (4 May) for a fifth term as a member of Aberdeenshire Council.

With 18 years on Aberdeenshire Council, Martin Ford is now the longest serving councillor in the Garioch Area.

Cllr Ford represented the Newmachar and Fintray ward from 1999 to 2007.

With the introduction of the single transferable vote system and multi-member wards in 2007, Martin Ford became one of the three councillors representing the East Garioch ward.

Further changes to electoral arrangements this time were down to a revision of council ward boundaries undertaken since the 2012 election by The Local Government Boundary Commission for Scotland. As of 4 May, the East Garioch ward (which includes Newmachar, Fintray, Blackburn and Kintore) is now larger than it was before.

The ward has been extended to the west by moving its boundary much closer to Kemnay and Inverurie. Reflecting the increase in population, the number of councillors representing the East Garioch ward has also been increased – from three to four.

Cllr Martin Ford said:

“I would like to thank all 4,559 residents of East Garioch who voted in the election last Thursday.

“I am tremendously pleased to be starting my fifth term on Aberdeenshire Council. It’s a great privilege to have been re-elected again after 18 years as a councillor. So I would like to express my special thanks to those who put their confidence in me to continue as one of their local representatives.

“Locally, there are a range of priorities within the East Garioch ward. The Council has a key role to play in the delivery of the planned rail station in Kintore. Decisions are required about additional school capacity in Newmachar. The new school in Blackburn is due to open in August 2018.

“With the election last week, there has been a considerable change in the membership of the Council. Moving forward, I hope the Council as a whole will have effective working relationships between councillors of different colours, so there is a preparedness to accept suggestions and good ideas from all sides. There are undoubtedly going to be some tough choices during the next five years, so we need a Council that takes its decisions on the basis of evidence and in the public interest.”

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May 052017
 

With thanks to Kenneth Hutchison, Parliamentary Assistant to Dr. Eilidh Whiteford.

Eilidh Whiteford with local fisherman John Clark.

Eilidh Whiteford, SNP candidate for Banff and Buchan, has renewed calls for a re-think on Aberdeenshire Council’s proposals to end Macduff Harbour’s Night Watchmen service.
Dr Whiteford joined local fisherman John Clark aboard the Banff-registered Reliance II on Wednesday night to see for herself the importance of the watchmen, and the challenges of piloting commercial vessels safely into Macduff Harbour.

Speaking after the visit, Dr. Whiteford said:

“I have already raised this issue with the council, but this evening I was able to see for myself exactly why the watchmen at Macduff need to be retained.

“This is primarily a safety issue. Even in daylight with perfect weather conditions, the entrance to Macduff Harbour is challenging for vessels. The harbour entrance can also be deceiving for skippers less familiar with the port, due to the remnants of the old harbour wall. 

“It’s also a commercial issue. Landings in Macduff have increased greatly since landing restrictions were lifted last year, and it is probably the single most important development towards regenerating economic activity in the town.

“At a time when the council has been putting huge efforts into regenerating Macduff and the surrounding area, it would be entirely counterproductive to undermine these efforts by removing essential personnel who enable commercial fishermen to land safely.”

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May 052017
 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Apr 302017
 

By Red Fin Hall.

On a very chilly afternoon, Derek McInnes decided he would experiment with the team, knowing that a victory would all but secure the second top spot in the league.
He decided to play both Ryan Christie and Niall McGinn and opted for a back three of Ash Taylor ,Andy Considine and Shay Logan.

This also gave the opportunity for Kenny McLean to be pushed a bit further forward.

Almost from the kick off the defence was called into action when a slack pass by the sometimes shaky Taylor fell to Danny Swanson. The net result was the first corner of the game for the visitors.

Seven minutes in, a cross from probable future captain Graeme Shinnie fell into the path of forward Adam Rooney who deftly turned the ball goalwards, and only a timely intervention from keeper Alan Mannus prevented the Dons’ striker from scoring his twentieth goal of the season.

Referee, Alan Muir, set the tone of the game soon after by booking both Logan and Jonny Hayes, both of which possibly just merited a talking to.

Soon after this, he totally ignored the clash between Chris Millar and Christie, when the former deliberately and cynically pushed the Aberdeen player into the visitor’s dugout. Why the fourth official didn’t bring this matter to the attention of the man in charge is beyond me. Before he limped off injured, Millar again avoided punishment when he again showed the style of play that St Johnstone participate in, when he body checked Jonny Hayes.

This tactic had the desired effect though, as the Dons failed to adapt and found it hard at times, despite trying, to get back to their crisp, passing play that has seen them see off various pretenders this season.

The first half continued in the same vein, with too much midfield head tennis being played. Much to the dismay of the fans. Just before half time, the first real chance of the game fell to Aberdeen, when a pleasing early cross into the box by Hayes, found McLean running in behind the defenders. But the on form midfielder should have done so much better with his diving, unchallenged header, and the half ended goalless.

Half time: 0-0

Just into the second half, the home side should have took the lead when that man McLean again found himself with the chance to score. It came when a long free kick was received by Logan who passed the ball to the aforementioned midfielder. But, as was the character of his efforts today, it went over the bar for a goal kick to the team from Perth.

Next to break forward was the soon to be departing Ryan Jack, who played a fine ball to Rooney, who fired in a dangerous cross into the area, only to see Steven Anderson turn it past his own post for a corner.

The game was desperately in need of a change of direction

From the resulting corner kick by McLean, Mannus had to be sharp to deny Christie, and then the ball ended up at the feet of Taylor – another player that looks to be departing in the summer.

His shot was unsurprisingly way off target.

Not long after that, the ever willing McLean saw another of his efforts, this time from further out, go high, wide, and not at all handsome.

The visitors then had their first chances of the game when first of all their captain, Steven Anderson, headed inches wide from a free kick, and then the ever dangerous Swanson’s long range attempt went, thankfully, wide of the target.

With 60 minutes gone, a fine piece of play from Christie resulted in a good ball laid into the path of Jack. His shot was not the one to get the opener though.

The game was desperately in need of a change of direction, and when Jayden Stockley and future MK Dons player, Peter Pawlett, replaced Rooney and Christie the fans were hoping that they could do as they have done so often this season and grab the vital winning goals.

But this was not to be. Their fresh legs didn’t change the way of the pretty poor fare on display at all.

The opening goal came under pretty controversial circumstances with only ten minutes left to play. Joe Lewis parried a shot from Swanson. The ball fell to Jack who was only a couple of feet  away from the keeper on the left side of the goals in a crowded area. The captain should have just turned it out for a corner, instead he hesitated on the ball and touched it back to Lewis.

With the referee at close hand viewing the incident, he rightly awarded an indirect free kick, despite the player’s protestations, and later claiming he was nudged in the back causing his foot to move the ball, from where I sit, directly behind the goal, it saddens me to say, that this was one of the few decisions that wannabe-Willie-Collum referee Muir got correct.

Rarely does anybody score from an indirect free kick in such close quarters to the net, but the writing was on the wall when The Dons lined up as if they were defending a free kick from further out. Instead of crowding out the goal mouth as most teams do, the set up a small defensive wall, with Lewis crazily positioning himself just behind the wall, with one man on the back post.

Liam Craig noticed this calamitous set up, and squared the ball to Swanson, who tucked it away from a relatively tight angle into the gaping space at the back post.

0-1

Aberdeen had to then chase the game – a situation that would never have developed had they been more positive in their finishing, and three minutes later, the inevitable happened. Goal scorer Swanson passed the ball to young Craig Thomson, and he fired a perfect angled and executed shot past Lewis to increase their lead.

0-2

Another poor decision occurred over on the South Stand side when Stockley and a couple of St Johnstone players were involved in a nothing situation which very nearly got out of hand. They were all lying on the ground after a period of play, nothing really, but when they stood up goalscorer Craig got right into Stockley’s face in a very threatening manner. The tall Aberdeen forward held his hands up and backed away.

Craig didn’t give up trying to make something out of nothing, and when the Perth lad threw himself to the ground causing Stockley to fall over him as he walked away from the farcical episode, other players got involved. Instead of sending Craig off for simulation, referee Muir showed only a yellow card, then mysteriously issued the same to Stockley who had already calmly walked away from the melee.

The end couldn’t come quick enough for what was left of the poor 10,606 crowd, and when the final whistle went, we all bemoaned the fact that two home games in a row we have lost a game in a five or six minute second half spell to a lower placed team playing in blue.

It looks like our post  split season poor form continues. This time with only nine points separating us from the plucky newcomers, the last four matches are vitally important.

Final Score: 0-2

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Apr 202017
 

80s Hollywood hair metal legends reunite for an evening of rock to a small, but appreciative, audience. Craig Chisholm reviews.

Fate can be funny but also cruel at times.
Take the case of a couple of 80s rock bands that have seen members come and go but recently reunited their singers and lead guitarists for the first time in years. One of these bands is called Guns n’ Roses. You’ve probably heard of them and you know their story.

Singer Axl Rose and guitarist Slash are touring together for the first time since the early 90s.

It’s a huge, lucrative, money-spinning event that takes in stadiums all over the globe. If you want to see them then their only British dates are at the London Stadium in June where they’ll play in front of 160,000 fans over two nights.

The other band are their former peers – the similarly titled LA Guns.

Their origins are intertwined – Tracii Guns was the original guitarist for Guns n’ Roses back in 1984 before falling out with Axl Rose and departing the band. He then formed a new band and worked with various singers before teaming up with vocalist Phil Lewis and having some minor commercial success in the late 80s and early 90s.

The commercial peak didn’t last long though, mostly due to the rise of Nirvana and grunge, before Lewis and Tracii Guns finally parted company in the late 90s.
Weirdly, both toured as separate incarnations of LA Guns for most of the early noughties before, like Axl and Slash, reuniting again last year. They too are currently on a UK European tour and if you wanted to see them then you could have wandered down to The Assembly where they played in front of less than 160 people.

Fate can definitely be cruel and you have to wonder if Tracii Guns ever wondered what could have been if he hadn’t fell out with Axl 30 years ago. But, if he does, he doesn’t show it in front of the sparse crowd on this occasion.

In fact, the band put on a solid and professional performance that goes down well by the fans in attendance.

The band, wisely, stick to the early albums for most of the set – their self-titled debut providing almost half of the main set alone – from openers ‘No Mercy’ and ‘Electric Gypsy’ though ‘Sex Action’, ‘Bitch is Back’ and more.

Lewis and Guns look to be enjoying themselves and put on an energetic performance that has sections of the crowd head-banging or singing along all night. Lewis in particular interacts and chats with the fans at the front in a colloquial and friendly manner.

During encore track ‘The Ballad of Jayne’ he even hands the mic to fans in the front row to sing along – kudos to the first two of the singers for pretty good performances that leaves the band impressed. However, the third audience member given the chance to shine probably only deserves praise for his enthusiasm, if not his voice, and his heroic level of drunkenness. 

The band finish their set with a boisterous ‘Rip and Tear’ from their second album ‘Cocked And Loaded’ before leaving the stage and on to the next gig of their reunion.

Whether there are more in attendance than in Aberdeen remains to be seen but those diehard fans who do attend will appreciate what they witnessed on stage.

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