Mar 102017
 

On of Juane’s artworks at the Union Bar, Luxembourg City. Pic used with kind permission.

By Red Fin Hall.

With only about a month to go until the ‘Nuart’ event comes to Aberdeen, the final selection of artists have been added to the added to the roster.

I am particularly looking forward to seeing Belgium born artist, Juane. 
Hailing form Brussels, the stencil artist uses ordinary people, mainly sanitation workers, as his prime subjects.

His work examines the invisibility of this profession despite the fact that their job keeps them in the public eye.

He displays them in unusual situations, always in their work gear, such as walking tightropes over washing lines, marching as Roman legions etc.

Since he used to work in said profession, one may wonder how he day-dreamed of being in the position of some of his subjects. Or, is that, like his pieces, fantasy? 

Martin Whatson comes from Norway, was born in 1984 and studied graphic art in Oslo and has exhibited, both in solo and joint exhibitions in Tokyo, London, Paris, Australia, and also in the USA. His graffiti and stencil work, using urban decay as part of his inspiration. Thirteen years into his career he will be making his Scotland debut, in Aberdeen, thanks to Nuart.

Gdynia born Mariusz Waras, aka M-City is another stencil artist. But this time with a difference.

He uses hundreds of small cut outs to make larger constructions, again using the urban environment he grew up in as his main inspiration. Being an industrial city, his work features images of mechanical origin as well as natural origin. Often his pieces are made on a grand scale, one of the largest being 85 metres in size. This very prolific artist, having created well over 700 works, is currently a lecturer in art in Gdansk.

From her first show in Loughborough in 2000 through to her latest in Madrid this year, Alice Pasquini has exhibited and worked in various cities throughout Europe as well as The Americas and China. Not only is she a graffiti artist, painter, set designer and illustrator, she also works in the 3D medium and sculptures using found objects.

She rarely sits still in her pursuit of work, constantly keeping herself busy in more than 100 cities world wide. This also is her first time working in Scotland.

The final artist participating is Isaac Cordal.

Born in 1974, this sculpture graduate was born and studied in Pontevedra in Spain. His sculptures generally are usually not on a grand scale. An examples of his work can be found on tops of bus shelter and on cornices and windows , averaging only 15cm in size. This makes the viewer work to see them. He has many strings to his bow. Playing guitar in a rock band, publishing a heavy metal fanzine and heading a digital art collective. He has also worked in the photography medium.

As well as these guests coming to Aberdeen, local artists and schools will be involved in the project during and before the Easter Weekend special event.

Note of Correction:

In my last article on Nuart, I intimated that James Finucane was the man behind this art group. This is not so.

Although he is the public face of the Aberdeen venture, he actually heads up the day to day running of the company, a position he took up two years ago. Nuart is actually the brainchild of Martyn Reed who relocated to Stavanger from Leeds over 20 years ago. Apologies for any misunderstanding relating to this.

Mar 022017
 

With thanks to Red Fin Hall.

Over Easter weekend of 14th-16th of April 11 world famous street artists, from far and wide, will be utilising various parts of the city to show their art. This brave and exciting venture is something to really look forward to.

James Finucane is the man behind NUART, the Stavanger based street art project. He hails from Stourbridge, and went to Cardiff university.

Now, at the behest of Aberdeen Council, he is bringing this exciting project to Aberdeen.

One of the visiting artists will be 45 year old movie making maker, Julian De Casabianca. His first feature length film was shot in 44 cities in 22 countries focusing on passers by. It was called Passing By and was used as an installation in Paris, shown on 40 Screens on the 4th district City Hall. He also has worked as a journalist, both in print and on television.

Joining him will be Jasmine Sidquii and Falk Lehmann going under the name of ‘Herakut’.

Herakut is a German artistic pairing – a symbiosis of the aliases Hera the painter and Akut the graffiti artist whose collaborations formed a fruitful partnership. Having worked together on various successful global art projects, these artists have merged their individual approaches influenced by graffiti and street art. 

Their artworks can be found in big cities around the world – from Toronto to Kathmandu, from San Francisco to Melbourne. Herakut’s creative art process is sensuous, savage, dialogical and storytelling. This remarkable powerful dualism creates imaginary worlds and inspires their figures with individual characters. It will be an absolute pleasure to have them in Aberdeen.

Bergen based Nipper specialises in small scale pieces, recently exhibited on doors and wall etc in Stavanger and went under the name Mission Directives. He likes to focus on public led communication and our use of the urban environment, questioning who has the authority to decide on the rights of said communication.

Staying in Europe, Portugese artist Add Fuel ( Diago Machado) is gaining a reputation with his visual and graphic art work since he started exhibiting in shows 11years ago. His humorous, stencil based street art are not only full of detail, but are intent on reinterpreting the language of the Portuguese azulejo traditional tile. 

Fontana McGee hails from Australia, although his roots are Scottish. He has exhibited all over the world from his home country to the west coast of America, via Moscow and Glasgow. Since he graduated in 2009 as a Bachelor of Fine arts, he has been artist in residence in   Ambush Gallery, Sydney, Illawarra Regional Gallery, Woolongong  and ISAD studios, Jakartah.

Scottish artist Robert Montgomery follows a tradition of conceptual art and stands out by bringing a poetic voice to the discourse of text art. Montgomery creates billboard poems, light pieces, fire poems, woodcuts and watercolors. He was the British artist selected for Kochi-Muziris Biennale 2012, the first biennale in India.

Montgomery has had solo exhibitions at venues in Europe and in Asia, including major outdoor light installations on the site of the old US Air Force base at Tempelhof. The first monograph of his work was published by Distanz, Berlin in 2015.

More artists are still to be added to this dazzling and creative cast. 

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Feb 202017
 

Fun Lovin’ Criminals provide an entertaining and engaging live show.

Fun Lovin’ Criminals brought some New York cool to The Garage in Aberdeen on a Friday night in February. Craig Chisholm reviews.

Wandering nonchalantly onstage with a drink in hand, frontman Huey Morgan toasted the crowd before he and the band – multi-instrumentalist Brian “Fast” Leiser and Leicester born drummer Frank Benbibni – launched into an 18 song set that covered their near 35 year career.

For such a quintessential New York band it’s ironic that their commercial breakthrough and subsequent peak came at the height of Britpop in the mid to late 90s and their song choice reflects this with a set heavy on tracks from debut album ‘Come Find Yourself’.

Opening with funky trumpet led track ‘The Fun Lovin’ Criminal’ the band blast through crowd pleasers such as the laid back ‘Smoke ‘Em’, the full on rock of ‘Bombin’ The L’ and, undoubted highlight of the night, the Tarantino movie dialogue sampling ‘Scooby Snacks’.

Tracks such as those highlight why the band became so popular at the time – the eclectic mix of hip-hop, rock, blues and soul delivered with a knowing nod and a wink draw their audience in and keep them enthralled throughout the night.

If any criticisms can be levelled at the group it would be that their later material doesn’t have the spark and imagination of their earlier work.

Later tracks from their most recent album ‘Classic Fantastic’ – released 7 years ago now! – such as the title track and ‘We, The Three’ aren’t met with such enthusiasm and recognition as cuts such as the Barry White referencing ‘Love Unlimited’.

Despite that, the band still keep the crowd on entertained for almost two hours.

Singer Huey may be better known nowadays as a Radio 6 presenter and TV host in the, thankfully, short lived series ‘Pet Nation’ he bizarrely hosted with Liza Tarbuck but it’s on stage that he’s at home.

His between song banter is entertaining and humorous – tall tales about hotel maids and of meetings with Mafia Boss John Gotti Jr to discuss the song ‘King Of New York’, which references his notorious Father, are all delivered with friendliness and laughs.

Closing their main set with a cover of James Bond theme song ‘We Have All The Time In The World’ the band return for a three song encore that includes ‘Friday Night’ performed exclusively for the fact that it is, indeed, Friday night.

At the end of the day, Fun Lovin’ Criminals may not be as commercially successful or as prolific with new material as they once were but they still provide an entertaining and engaging live show that will leave you with a smile on your face.

Pictures © Craig Chisholm.

Feb 202017
 

With thanks to John Morrison, Marketing & Communications Manager, Peacock Visual Arts.

Peacock Visual Arts are delighted to present Geologic Intimacy (Yu no Hana) by Ilana Halperin.

Following the first showing of this work at Fujiya Gallery Hanayamomo in Kyushu, Japan, Geologic Intimacy (Yu no Hana) will extend to include a new series of prints commissioned by Peacock.

This project marks the first time Halperin has exhibited in Japan and Aberdeen and continues a historical narrative between Kyushu and Aberdeen which began with the 19th Century ‘Scottish Samurai’ merchant Thomas Blake Glover.

For 20 years, Ilana Halperin dreamt about Beppu. In 1995, back in the urban geology of New York City, she found a book on the street about volcanoes.

A chapter on Beppu featured – with photographs of children cooking eggs on the streets, steam coming through every crack in the sidewalk, and a pool as red as blood. In New York, steam vents erupted at every corner, but these were industrial rather than natural.

She imagined a correlation between her home city and Beppu, a place with steaming vents and boiling springs, where daily life was lived and informed by a direct relationship with geothermal phenomena.

In 2014, Halperin went to Beppu for the first time on a research residency with BEPPU PROJECT. Geologic Intimacy (Yu no Hana) grew out of this time. Beppu is the second most geothermally active site on earth, after Yellowstone, USA. It is a primary location for the potential of geothermal power in Japan. Over the course of a year, new geothermal sculptures slowly formed in the Kannawa hot springs of Beppu.

In September 2016, Halperin returned to Beppu to take the new sculptures out of the water and install a solo exhibition at Fujiya Gallery Hanayamomo, a beautiful listed Meiji Era building. The exhibition coincided with the blossoming of the venue’s 200-year-old Mokusei tree, reflecting philosophical approaches within Halperin’s practice – thinking in time scales longer than the human lifespan.

The exhibition at Peacock Visual Arts will feature new Japanese sculptures, alongside a geothermal sculpture formed in Iceland and new works on paper commissioned by Peacock.

To employ experimental processes, field work, and traditional print-based methods, Halperin is developing a new series of work with Peacock’s Master Printmaker, Michael Waight, utilising Yame Washi paper – the oldest Japanese handmade paper in Kyushu which can last 1,000 years – in combination with hot spring minerals she collected in Beppu.

To pair with the ‘field pigments’ from Japan, Halperin visited Dr Allan Lilly, Principal Soil Scientist at The James Hutton Institute in Aberdeen in January 2017, who introduced her to the National Soils Archive founded in 1934.

A selection of Scottish soil was generously donated to the project, including soil sourced from Slighhouses Farm where James Hutton, the ‘Father of Modern Geology’, farmed and began to formulate radical ideas about the age of the earth and deep geologic time. The nature of materials within these new works reflects the unique processes which formed the geothermal sculptures in Beppu, continuing the narrative of exchange between places intrinsic to this project.

Halperin and Mabon are working with the Glasgow based design studio Graphical House on a limited edition Artist Book that will mark the completion of the project, acting as a printed matter response to this ambitious and culturally diverse project. For more details on the publication visit the project website geologic-intimacy-yu-no-hana.tumblr.com.

Artist’s website: www.geologicnotes.wordpress.com

Ilana Halperin // Geologic Intimacy (Yu no Hana)
A new geothermal art/science project curated by Naoko Mabon (Aberdeen, Scotland and Beppu, Kyushu, Japan).

Opening: Thursday 30th March, 6-8pm. All welcome!
Exhibition runs:
31st March – 29th April 2017
Location:
Peacock Visual Arts

Curator’s tour: 22nd April 2017, 3pm

Artist’s Talk: Saturday 1st April 2017, 3.00-4.30pm
Ilana Halperin will be in conversation with Professor Tim Ingold from the Anthropology Department of the University of Aberdeen and Peacock Visual Arts’ Director Nuno Sacramento about her exhibition. This is a free event but space is limited so please book by clicking the blue button on the link below and filling out the booking form:

Ilana Halperin // Geologic Intimacy (Yu no Hana)

Image: Courtesy of the artist, Patricia Fleming Projects and WAGON

Photography: Sachiyo Ando

Feb 172017
 

Duncan Harley reviews The Woman in Black – at His Majesty’s Theatre Aberdeen

If you enjoy being scared of things which go thump in the night, then this play-within-a-play is a must see.

Essentially a two man show, The Woman in Black gets off to what appears to be a slow start. As an elderly Arthur Kipps hums and haws hilariously over his acting ability, the theatre audience may wonder if the bigging-up of the production as a celebration of nerve shredding horror is, perhaps, simply a publicist’s whim.

However, and with a nerve shattering bang, the tone soon changes from that of gentle hilarity to one of spine-tingling terror and, thanks to some splendid pre-recorded screams and a ton or two of dry-ice, theatre-goers are soon transported along Nine Lives Causeway to Eel Marsh House, home of the late Mrs Drablow.

The set is simple and quite bare and the tale is set “in this theatre about one hundred years ago”.

Retired solicitor Arthur Kipps has engaged The Actor in the hope of shedding the phantoms of his past. He seeks closure and is intent on presenting his disturbing story to a theatre audience in the form of what must be considered a blatant act of exorcism.

Early on David Acton, as the elderly Kipps, assures both audience and The Actor, played ably by Matthew Spencer, “Forgive me, I’m not an actor.” However this is patently not the case.

Both performers are master storytellers, and the audience quickly becomes engaged. As the tension builds, there are moments of terror interspersed with some very wry humour indeed.

For example, just as things begin to look pretty damn serious for The Actor, who by this time is playing a much younger Mr Kipps, on trots Spider the invisible dog. This is not at all as absurd as it may sound, since the audience have by this time become accustomed to suspension of disbelief: minimalist multi-purpose props have by this point become quite acceptable and they have, after all, just seen an imaginary pony.

Alongside some unmistakable shades of a much darker than normal Miss Havisham, Bram Stoker’s Dracula inspiration Sir Henry Irving gets a brief but well noted mention or three. The play is, after all a Gothic Horror feast.

This is an entertaining piece of theatre and there are many startling moments. While the play might not be for everyone, the slick timing and understated dialogue may well challenge the preconceptions of those not normally drawn to the genre.

There is of course a strange twist at the end of the tale, how could there not be after all? As to the nature of this curveball, my lips are, naturally, completely sealed.

Directed by Robin Herford and adapted from Susan Hill’s novel by Stephen Mallatratt, The Woman in Black plays at HMT Aberdeen until Saturday February 18th.

Tickets from Aberdeen Performing Arts Tel: 01224- 641122

Words © Duncan Harley and Images © APA

Feb 022017
 

Scottish soprano Jillian Bain Christie

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

A specially arranged version of a classic Robert Burns love song received its Burns Night debut in Aberdeen.
Local soprano Jillian Bain Christie treated guests at Malmaison Aberdeen’s annual Burns Supper to a version of Ae Fond Kiss that has been specially written for her by renowned north-east composer Professor Paul Mealor FRSA.

The song forms part of Jillian’s debut album, Ae Spark o’ Nature’s Fire, a compilation of 14 works penned by Scotland’s national bard, including some of his best-known love songs.

Jillian, who as well as being an acclaimed singer is also a talented visual artist, was taught by Professor Mealor while studying for a music degree at the University of Aberdeen and also sang the soprano solo in his Symphony No 1: Passiontide

To thank Jillian for her involvement in some of his previous musical projects he chose to compose this arrangement of Burns’ most recorded love song to appear on her first album.

Professor Mealor is an admired composer whose works include Ubi Caritas, which premiered at the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, and the 2011 Christmas number one hit Wherever You Are, which was performed by the Military Wives choir.

Ae Spark o’ Nature’s Fire was released last year by independent Aberdeen record label Luckenbooth Music. The album, which also features pianist Catherine Herriott, is a collection of Burns songs that are sung to arrangements by contemporary and 20th century Scottish composers including Rory Boyle and John Maxwell Geddes.

Tracks include Ye Banks and Braes o’ Bonnie Doon, The Deil’s awa’ wi’ the Exciseman and Bonnie Wee Thing. Alongside the specially arranged version of Ae Fond Kiss, other highlights of the album include unaccompanied versions of A Red, Red Rose and John Anderson, My Jo.

Frances Milne, co-founder of Luckenbooth Music, said:

“Robert Burns is revered around the world and many of his songs have achieved iconic status.  Ae Spark o’ Nature’s Fire presents 14 of his songs in a refreshed and new way, providing an album that appeals to fans of both traditional Scottish and classical music

“This new version of Ae Fond Kiss is a beautiful arrangement that illustrates the skill of composer, singer and pianist.  Those attending the Burns Supper at Malmaison will be left in no doubt about the brilliance of Paul Mealor’s arrangement and Jillian’s recital of it.

“Jillian’s unaccompanied, pared-back version of A Red, Red Rose showcases her vocal ability.  The melody was originally written as a fiddle tune and features great leaps in range, which are normally technically difficult for the voice.  However, Jillian’s trained voice copes with the melody with ease.  It is one of the stunning highlight of the album.”

Ae Spark o’ Nature’s Fire is on sale now and can be purchased directly from Luckenbooth Music and Amazon, in selected retailers, or as a download via iTunes and Google Play.  Notes accompanying the CD give a comprehensive insight into Burns as a songwriter and song collector, while a glossary provides an understanding to the many Scots words used in the songs.

Born and raised in Aberdeen, Jillian Bain Christie studied fine print making at Glasgow School of Art, before gaining a masters degree in illustration at Edinburgh College of Art. The former Mile End Primary and Aberdeen Grammar pupil worked as an artist for a number of years before embarking on a music degree at the University of Aberdeen, graduating in 2012 with a first-class honours degree. 

She then studied in London at the Trinity London Conservatoire of Music and Dance, gaining a masters degree in fine art in creative performance practice.

Luckenbooth Music is an independent Scottish record label. Based in Aberdeen, it was established in 2016 by Frances Milne and her brother John Milne. The label’s first release was Ae Spark o’ Nature’s Fire, a collection of songs by Robert Burns which were performed by Aberdeen soprano Jillian Bain Christie and accompanied by pianist Catherine Herriott. 

A luckenbooth is a traditional Scottish wedding brooch given to a bride by her groom on their wedding day. For more information visit www.luckenboothmusic.co.uk or telephone 01224 311468.

A preview of the tracks can be listened to via SoundCloud by visiting https://soundcloud.com/luckenbooth-music

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Jan 132017
 

By Duncan Harley.

Pantomime by its very nature is a lively medium. The plot typically presents as a well known folk tale and a typical production will involve the use of loud special effects and fast-paced slapstick comedy.
Gender-crossing actors encourage audience participation and theatregoers are expected to sing along and shout out traditional responses such as “Its behind you!” and “Oh yes it is!” Thunderclaps and strobes are de rigueur and folk in the front stalls often risk a good soaking.

Aberdeen HMT’s offering this Christmas was no exception.

Written by Alan McHugh and starring Elaine C. Smith and Jordan Young, Dick McWhittington was billed as a Scottish pantomime adventure without equal, and few who saw the production during the five-week run could have been disappointed.

As thunderclaps rocked the theatre and lightning flashed, the comedy routines ran amok with below the belt humour. Songs, gags and a hilariously contrived slapstick sea shanty involving an electric eel enhanced the experience, while a villainous King Rat strutted his stuff.

Last Friday’s matinee was slightly different however.

Dubbed a Calm performance, it retained most of the original dialogue and followed the original Alan McHugh plot. If it hadn’t been for the fact that I had attended a regular evening performance of this tale of Doric domination a week or so before, I might not have noticed any difference. The songs and gags were in place. The gender-crossing actors were all there and King Rat was just as villainous as he had been the first time round.

Relaxed performances are specifically designed to encourage people with an autistic spectrum condition, learning disability or sensory and communication disorders into theatres; and to offer those who otherwise may feel excluded the opportunity to experience live theatre in a safe environment. They provide a less formal, more supportive atmosphere in order to reduce anxiety levels.

Sound engineer Chantal Urquhart explains:

“The sound during the performance is built up gradually so as to gently accustom the audience to the sound levels. There are no strobe effects and no loud thunderclaps.”

The differences however do not end there. Being a matinee, the more risqué double-entendres were absent anyway; but in addition the folk in the front stalls were spared a soaking, and for much of the performance an appreciative audience both sang along and, mainly, quietly commented on the action.

In short, the calm performance set the scene for an immersive audience experience.

The concept of an autism-friendly theatre environment is not entirely new, and Aberdeen Performing Arts is no stranger to the concept. Performances catering specifically for the requirements of theatre goers with disabilities, additional support needs and on the autistic spectrum are thankfully on the increase.

APA Chief Executive Jane Spiers recently commented:

“It’s fantastic that by making small but important adjustments we can break down barriers, open up the experience of live theatre and make it as welcoming as possible. We already offer audio-described, captioned and signed performances and this is part of our wider commitment to broadening access to our work and our venues.”

With perhaps 700,000 members of the UK population on the autistic spectrum, the calm performance initiative represents a positive cultural shift in attitude towards inclusion of an audience group sometimes marginalised by the performing arts.

A visual storyboard relating to the calm performance of Dick McWhittington can be viewed on the APA website.

 Words © Duncan Harley and Images © APA

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Dec 232016
 

Craig Chisholm reviews Ash At The Garage, Aberdeen. Photos by Craig Chisholm.

It’s been over 20 years since Britrockers Ash appeared in Aberdeen. That was for a date at the Lemon Tree supporting their then newly released album ‘1977’ and now, two decades later, they return to the city, albeit to a different venue – The Garage, on Windmill Brae – but in support of that very same album on its 20th anniversary tour.

Since the end of the September the band have been re-visiting arguably their most well-known long player and performing it from beginning to end in their set.

Starting this, their second last gig of the year, with album opener ‘Lose Control’ they bounced through 1977’s twelve tracks that include their biggest hits from their commercial peak – ‘Girl From Mars’, ‘Kung Fu’, ‘Oh Yeah’ and ‘Angel Interceptor’ were all Top 20 hits for the band and The Garage crowd lapped them up as if they were released yesterday and not as far back as 1995 in some cases.

Their most recent album, 2015’s ‘Kablammo!’ is represented by only one track tonight – ‘Let’s Ride’.

But given that most of the crowd were teenagers or twenty-somethings in the 90s the band wisely stick to the hits from that era for a nostalgia filled set – ‘Petrol’ and ‘Jack Names the Planets’ from their debut EP, ‘Petrol’ are given a spirited run through and early noughties hits ‘Orpheus’, ‘Shining Light’ and ‘Burn Baby Burn’ are well received and get the crowd animated as they sing along, as was Top 10 hit ‘A Life Less Ordinary’ from the 1997 Cameron Diaz and Ewan McGregor film of the same name.

It’s a couple of cover versions that are most interesting though – John Williams ‘Cantina Band’ from Star Wars, which was previously covered as a B-Side by the band on an early single, is timely and appropriate given the release of the latest Star Wars movie at midnight the very night of their gig and ‘1977’, of course, being the year the first movie was released.

The other cover is the one that may have puzzled the casual observer – a rocked up version of ABBA’s ‘Does Your Mother Know?’. However, if anyone had taken a trip to the merchandise stall at the back of the venue they could have picked up a CD of a set from the band’s legendry London Astoria performances from 1997 which featured that very song on it.

The band’s line up has remained pretty constant since they began – only the addition of Charlotte Hatherley as a full time member a few years back provided any change.

And tonight the three piece – singer/guitarist Tim Wheeler, drummer Rick McMurray and bassist Mark Hamilton – still give their all, as fresh faced and full of energy now as they were when they formed the band in High School in Belfast.

Although Ash may not have the commercial draw they once had, they still have the hooks and pop nuance that deserves to be heard by a wider audience.

Hopefully it’ll not be another two decades before they return to the North East so others can re-discover their pop-punk songs for themselves.

More pics here.

Dec 232016
 

Craig Chisholm reviews Frightened Rabbit At The Beach Ballroom, Aberdeen. Photos by Craig
Chisholm.

On a night when the lights went out at Pittodrie during a Dons game against Motherwell, Frightened Rabbit lit up the nearby stage of The Beach Ballroom as they returned to the city in support of their latest album, 2016’s critically acclaimed ‘Painting of a Panic Attack’.

This tour represents a victory lap of sorts for the band as they celebrate a successful year which featured a Top 20 album and high profile live appearances at Glastonbury, T in The Park and a host of festivals throughout Europe and the US.

In a few days after their Aberdeen and Inverness dates they will play three sold out gigs at Glasgow’s iconic Barrowland Ballroom.

Make no mistake, this may be the last time in a while that you’ll catch them in venues of this size and headlining appearances at the AECC or Hydro beckon for the band.

Opening with the uplifting ‘Get Out’ from ‘Painting of a Panic Attack’, the band career straight into the fire and brimstone of ‘Holy’ and ‘The Modern Leper’ which featured on  2008’s ‘The Midnight Organ
Flight’.

Selkirk born singer Scott Hutchison chats amiably to the ecstatic crowd between songs.

“People always shout “Scotland” to us at our gigs” he notes.

“which is kind of weird, as we’re in Scotland…. Nah, just kidding, it’s only in America.”

Hutchison may have moved to Los Angeles after the bands previous album, ‘Pedestrian Verses’ and its subsequent tour but he and the band remain rooted in their home country musically and emotionally as their lyrics and between song banter attests.

The crowd hang onto his every word and exchange conversation with him as the mood remains happy and warm despite the driving cold wind and rain outside.

Hutchison may be the frontman, original member and main songwriter but the unsung star of the show is behind the drum kit in the shape of his brother, Grant.

Remaining a constant in the band since they were a duo recording the debut album, he is a flurry of careering arms, flying hair, snapped drum sticks and open mouthed expressions of pure emotion.

Part X-Men’s Wolverine, part Animal from The Muppets and, visually at least, part Oliver Reed, the drummer is a captivating sight behind the kit and guaranteed to hold your gaze once you see him.

The 19 song list set-list, lasting almost an hour and a half, is a career spanning set that includes eight tracks from their latest album and the oldest cut played being ‘Be Less Rude’ from their 2006 debut album ‘Sings The Greys’, each song received ecstatically by the partisan crowd and given rapturous applause and the upmost appreciation.

So, where next for Frightened Rabbit after such an amazing year then? Onwards and upwards one must assume – they may be frightened but they are certainly no rabbit in the headlights, frozen to the spot.

More Pics here.

Dec 162016
 

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

Scotland’s very own Elaine C. Smith took to the Aberdeen pantomime stage for the eighth year in succession this month. Appearing as lead in Dick McWhittington alongside seasoned fellow pantomime favourites Jordan Young and Alan McHugh, Elaine’s portrayal of Fairy Fit Like proved yet again that the hoary old one liner ‘Thespian: Where’s my career? Audience: It’s behind you!’ doesn’t really cut the mustard nowadays.

Written by Alan McHugh, the plot follows loosely the classic pantomime tale of poor boy makes good through heroic deeds, becomes fabulously rich, gets the girl of his desires and takes up office as Lord Mayor.

The twists in the plot, and there are lots of them, involve some funny business with a broken trombone plus lashings of both above- and below-the-belt innuendo-laden humour. There’s a risqué assertion that Maggie Lynne’s ‘Ailish’ is really fond of Dick, and there was also a nicely timed ad-lib by Fairy Fit Like, following a technical fault with the sound, to the effect that:

“Somebody’s got to come up here and fiddle about with me!”

Little is left to the imagination.

As the risqué jokes piled on and the comedy routines ran amuck, one found oneself transported back to that innocence of childhood where even Dick Emery’s brassy Mandy’s catchphrase of ‘Ooh, you are awful’, seemed benignly devoid of double entendre. That’s the magic of pantomime: keep the grown-ups happy and the youngsters wondering, and you won’t go far wrong.

Mind you, the spectre of Jordan Young’s ‘Ba Heid Boabby’ being molested by an electric eel will haunt me forever, and Elaine’s portrayal of a club wielding golf king in the form of Donald Chump left no holds unbarred! Indeed, I detected an enthusiastic cheer when Sultan Vinegar decreed “Off with his head”.

The villain of the piece, John Jack’s ‘King Rat’, naturally gets his just deserts and, without giving too much away, following an innuendo-laden proposal, Dick and Ailish finally tie the knot.

There are musical numbers galore, including a splendid rendering of The Northern Lights of Old Aberdeen, and of course, as we have come to expect from this annual show, some very fine special effects indeed.

The sets are sumptuous, the puns are outrageous and at points, and for all the right reasons, there wasn’t a dry eye in the audience.

Plus, in the true spirit of traditional Christmas pantomime entertainment, the show programme includes detailed instructions enabling younger members of the audience to cut out and assemble their very own Tommy the Cat.

What more could anyone want …

Directed by Nick Winston, ‘Dick McWhittington’ performs at HMT Aberdeen until Sunday January 8th 2017.

Tickets from Aberdeen Performing Arts Tel: 01224- 641122

Words © Duncan Harley and Images © Aberdeen Performing Arts

PS: Why did Dick McWhittington have a beard?
Because nine out of ten owners find that their cats prefer whiskers.