Jun 232017
 

Duncan Harley reviews The Wedding Singer at His Majesty’s Theatre Aberdeen.

Once you get to grips with the schmaltzy ‘girls just wanna get married’ portrayal of the eighties which haunts this musical from the very start, The Wedding Singer is actually a whole load of fun.

Despite a story-line thin enough to gladden the heart of a coronary bypass surgeon and sufficient cheesy humour to keep McDonalds going in triple cheeseburger’s for a month, the entertainment value more than makes up for this sugar-sweet take on the Reagan decade.

Based on the hit 1998 film of the same name, the musical tells the tale of wedding singer and emcee Robbie Hart.

Robbie and his band ‘Simply Wed’ – yes you read that correctly – play the New Jersey wedding circuit making a precarious living on the back of those who have popped the question. Jilted and depressed he abandons the wedding gigs and comes of age on the bar mitzvah circuit. Predictably he gets the girl and equally predictably he gets invited to sing at his own wedding.

Starring Jon Robyns as the multi-talented Robbie Hart and X Factor/singer songwriter Cassie Compton as love interest Julia Sullivan, it would be difficult to imagine this production going far wrong really. Well known for roles including secretly-gay Rod in Avenue Q and Sir Galahad in Spamalot Jon’s performance literally shines.

Add in a mix of stars including Ray Quinn, as Glen Gulia, and Barbara Rafferty in the role of Rosie the rapping-granny and The Wedding Singer is off like the clappers.  A clutch of iconic dance-numbers including Saturday Night in the City and All About the Green plus some pretty dang impressive lighting and audio complete the line-up.

Alongside the main characters, the cast list includes a motley crew of ‘fake’ characters including Ronnie Reagan, Billy Idol, Tina Turner and Cyndi Lauper. Additionally, and I could be wrong, amongst the line-up in the bar scene I swear I spotted a suitably inebriated Charles Bukowski

As a feel-good, Aspartame sweetened heart-warming trip into the past, The Wedding Singer works really well although the story-line does pose awkward questions for those who were actually around at the time.

Will Hart get the girl? And does Julia really want to be Mrs Gulia? For a definitive answer or two you will just have to join the audience. Oh! And watch out for those brick-size cell-phones and, of course, that singing cake!

Lighting Designer Ben Cracknell/Sound Designer Ben Harrison.
The Wedding Singer plays at HMT Aberdeen until Saturday 24 June
Tickets from Aberdeen Performing Arts Tel: 01224- 641122
Words © Duncan Harley and Images © APA

Jun 082017
 

Duncan Harley reviews Mark Jackson’s Red White and Blue.

Mark Jackson’s take on the beautiful game, of rugby, is a welcome distraction from that stereotypical play on sweating giants in short shorts which generally populates the sporting-fiction bookshelf.

Set against a backdrop of rarefied privilege in the lead up to the 1924 Paris Olympiad the story follows American student Jack Morgan as, on the trail of burning ambition, he vows to secure selection for the US Olympic team. Along the way he must pick up a Rugby Blue, bag the girl of his dreams and, of course, win that Gold.

Following a meeting at Stamford University, during which he accepts the challenge “Climb that Everest and perchance other mountains may be scaled”, he secures a scholarship at Oxford and sets off on his quest.

Morgan is young, wealthy and gifted. When he arrives at Oxford in 1923, he is paired, by the sniffy College porter, with new room-mate Saul Warburg.

“What are you here for?” asked Morgan
“Isn’t it obvious? Law. It’s the Inns of Court for Saul Warburg QC. You?” replied Saul.
“Get my degree and win a Blue.”
“Ah, the odd-shaped ball.”
“It’s the Great Game,” countered Morgan.

As if the odds were not already sufficiently stacked against him, Jack soon sets sights on the beautiful Rose. She, an ‘English Rose’, is of course none other than the Varsity team captain’s ‘girl’; and his quest for that coveted Oxford Blue appears to be already in jeopardy.

The setting, in a 1920’s privileged England, echoes realism and while the Red White and Blue storyline is strong, character development is perhaps not so. Heading towards the last page there were still unanswered questions regarding the main character. Additionally, the historical-political context outwith the narrow confine of the international rugby world seemed sparse.

Staccato dialogue inhabits these chapters and a perceptible spectre of a Spillane-like Mike Hammer, minus the whisky-swilling-machismo, hummed along in the background. Indeed the upbeat and sometimes stirring rugby commentary raises suspicion that author Mark Jackson, a newspaperman, was perhaps in some previous life a sports-commentator.

Hopefully this powerful foray into the rainbow world of Varsity conflict is just the first of a long series which will see the mighty Morgan’s sporting career flourish. Perhaps in part two we might hear of his exploits in introducing both the odd-shaped-ball and Jesse Owens to the Berlin Olympiad.

Red White and Blue (163pp) is published by Matador at £8.99  
ISBN: 9781785892851

First published in the May Edition of Leopard Magazine – A magazine which celebrates the people, the culture and the places of North-east Scotland

Jun 022017
 

 By Red Fin Hall.

Well that’s another season over, and what a season it was. Stretching back to 26th June last year when Aberdeen travelled to Brechin for a friendly, ahead of first competitive game in the Europa Cup at home to Fola Esch of Luxembourg, ending last Saturday with the epic and exciting Scottish Cup final against Celtic.

Nobody expected The Dons to get as close to being victorious in that final as they did.

This team, started by Craig Brown and moulded by Derek McInnes, has finally come to a crossroads, with Ash Taylor, Ryan Jack and Nial Mcginn, three first team regulars all looking for new clubs, and Peter Pawlett already signed for M.K.Dons. Rumours abound on social media about the future of Jonny Hayes and Derek McInnes, with Celtic and Sunderland seemingly interested in being their next employers.

It wouldn’t take much for these rumours to be squashed with an official statement from the club.

This has been our most successful season without winning anything since Willie Miller was manager, but this time the future looks rosier, with the prospective of further finals and perhaps progressing past the qualifying rounds of the Europa League a distinct possibility.

The main stream media though are having none of it, doing their usual speculating and writing us off because “The Rangers” will be busy in the transfer market and Hibs will be back in the SPFL.

Also, the fact that we have lost so many players and only, so far, having signed Greg Tansey, means we will be weaker. But The Rangers will be in a bigger transition period than the Dons, if stories are to believed, with more than half their team being kicked out, or should I say, released. Their manager has already stated that he wants to bring in players he knows; and if this is true, then their is a greater chance they will be Portuguese with no knowledge of the Scottish game.

Aberdeen have been pretty consistent all season long with only the occasional lapse of form, none more so than the League Cup final against Celtic where the players went into the match on a great run of nine wins out of ten, the only loss being to Celtic.

Bad luck played it’s part too, especially the away match to League survivors, Hamilton, in February of this year. Aberdeen had well over 20 corners, but couldn’t put the ball into the home team’s net and cancal out an 8th minute goal by Mikey Devlin. The Hamilton captain is a player that, apparently, McInnes is keen on.

Although Aberdeen had little chance of catching up with the champions, they have been in scintillating form. It was widely expected that the gap between the Dons and The Rangers, who finished in third place, would have been much closer.

However, it could have been wider had it not been for a few silly draws and especially those crazy 10 minute spells in our last three home games. Firstly, against The Rangers, we conceded 3 goals in that period despite being the dominant team throughout the match. The following home game, and the first after the split, saw us go to sleep for a few minutes, allowing St Johnstone to put two past us.

Thirteen days later visitors, Celtic were 3 goals up in the first 11 minutes. However, Jonny Hayes’ 12th minute goal was a vital turning point. The players seemed to finally realise how good they were, and made the Celtic defence work harder than they had domestically all season, pushing them all the way. Away romps and consecutive victories against the other two Glasgow clubs, saw the team go into the final in fine fettle and full of confidence.

Well, we all know what happened there, so no further analysis is needed other than, perhaps, the manager’s choice of substitutes.

In my opinion, the decisions to bring on Rooney (our top scorer, but a bit one dimensional at times) and replacing McGinn (a player that rarely plays his best in the big games, but still gives us width) with O’Connor, a midfielder, instead of Scott Wright (who scored a hat trick at Partick Thistle, and a natural keen and pacey replacement for the Northern Irishman) remain questionable.

It is pleasing that the supporters are still buzzing and confident and fully behind the team, and anxious for July to come around.

All in all, it has been a satisfactory season, and with the first game in the Europa League not taking place until July, this will be the first time since 2015 that the team have had a month without playing a game.

Unless a friendly is arranged in June that is.

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May 242017
 

Review and Photographs by Dod Morrison.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bruce also changed costumes to suit the songs.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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May 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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