Apr 022019
 

Review and photos by Craig Chisholm.

The Men in Black returned to the Beach Ballroom for another triumphant performance, albeit one with a few teething troubles including a couple of false starts and one song being stopped half way through.

But, as lead singer Baz says apologetically “it’s only music, only a band” before pausing and adding:

“Not just any band – it’s the fucking Stranglers.”

And he’s right, it’s not just any band. It’s a legendary, critically acclaimed, punk band that scaled commercial peaks, influenced everyone from punks to Britpoppers and still sells out venues across the world nearly 50 years into their illustrious career.

And, as it’s only the second date of their 2019 tour, then any teething troubles can be as easily forgiven as the exuberance at seeing such a seminal act in front of a sold-out crowd.

Before the self-proclaimed Men in Black take the stage, however, there’s an opportunity to see another classic rock act ply their wares as Britain’s premier Rhythm & Blues act, the mighty Dr Feelgood, open the night’s proceedings.

It’s a very different Dr Feelgood that started in Canvey Island 1971 and became mainstays of the then burgeoning pub rock scene – long gone are original members Wilko Johnson, The Big Figure, John B Sparks and late, enigmatic frontman Lee Brilleaux.

Instead, present members Kevin Morris, PH Mitchell, Steve Walwyn and Robert Kane have been keeping
the band’s name alive as a going concern for a few decades now. 

Between them, they provide a competent, nostalgic and talented run through of some of the band’s finest moments – ‘Down by The Jetty’, ‘Milk and Alcohol’ and
a cover of ‘Route 66’ being stand out songs of their all too brief set.

The Stranglers themselves have a few line up changes over the years too and the only remaining members from their early years are bassist JJ Brunell and keyboard player Dave Greenfield – although drummer Jet Black is still part of the band when recording in the studio but no longer touring due to ill health.

It’s a typically eclectic set from the band that stretches back to their 70s beginnings right up to their most recent releases.

Chart hits such as ‘Golden Brown’, ‘Peaches’, ‘Always the Sun’ and closer ‘No More Heroes’ are well received by the adoring crowd as are fan favourites such as the pile driving ‘(Get a) Grip (On Yourself)’ which, as always, gets the crowd going wild only three songs in.

Humour is never far from the band – whether it’s JJ’s huge grin throughout the set, or lead singer and guitarist Baz Warne’s between song banter.

But the comedy moment of the night surely belongs to their poor guitar roadie, tonight celebrating his 40th birthday and getting the opportunity to dance topless on stage whilst wearing a tutu. Quite a sight, to say the least.

The Stranglers return to the Granite City in October as primary support to Alice Cooper in an eclectic three band bill that includes the surviving members seminal rockers The MC5, celebrating 50 years and billed on the night as The MC50.

It’s sure to be another unmissable night of live music that, one suspects, won’t feature any false song starts, early tour teething troubles and, most importantly, dancing roadies in skirts! Miss it if you dare.

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.

Jun 072012
 

By Fred Wilkinson.

The Olympic Flame will be carried through Aberdeen City on Monday 11th June, arriving in the City around 6.25pm at Peterculter, and making it’s way to the Castlegate via Milltimber, Cults, Mannofield, Holburn Street and Union Street.

Among the runners will be Scotland Roller Derby international and Aberdeen team captain, Carolyn Mackenzie, who will run with the flame around 6.33pm from a section of the A93 near Coronation Road to the Milltimber Village sign.

Having previously published articles on Europe’s fastest-growing sport, Aberdeen Voice were delighted to hear of Granite City Roller Girls being represented in the ceremony and eager to know how Carolyn was feeling about her involvement.

“I am absolutely thrilled and overjoyed and really looking forward to the event.” announced Carolyn proudly.

 “Part of the reason why my application was successful is the work I do with Aberdeen’s only Roller Derby league – Granite City Roller Girls. We are a nationally competitive league which was established in 2008 and we have been competing since 2010.”

Carolyn was originally nominated through the Diet Coke campaign by an ex-skater, Jenna Hunter, in recognition of her commitment to raising the profile of Roller Derby as a sport, and for her motivational role in the local team. In addition to the captaincy Carolyn also has the role of Head of Training for the team.

Carolyn explains:

“I am always looking for ways to put power into the team and try my best to inspire others to achieve their full potential. I’m forever scouting the internet, watching national and international teams and watching the regional play offs in USA online to keep up to date with the newest strategies.

“I’m also forever trying to persuade coaches from other successful leagues to train with us and trying my best to attend boot camps. On top of this I like to look up to other established full contact sports to see why they have become so successful and trying to do the same for our team and Roller Derby .”

In recognition of her hard work and commitment, Carolyn was one of two Aberdeen skaters selected to compete as part of Team Scotland at the inaugural Roller Derby World Cup in Toronto last December where the Scots finished 11 out of 13.

Carolyn commented:

“The World Cup was an eye-opener as some of the girls who were competing on the USA team have been skating longer than I have been alive! We also beat Brazil and Argentina to secure 11th place, something many Scottish teams can’t boast”

Carolyn will not be alone as she takes her turn carrying the Olympic flame on Monday. Fellow Roller girls are understandably proud of Carolyn’s achievements and are excited at the prospect of cheering her on along the route.

Team-mate  Kirsten Reid told Aberdeen Voice:

“Granite City Roller Girls are immensely proud of Carolyn, one of the privileged to have been selected in this once in a lifetime experience of carrying the Olympic Torch.

“Carolyn is an inspiration to all her family and friends with the achievements she has made in the last year. With all the hard work and dedication to her sport, this is a lovely way for Carolyn to be rewarded. Well Done Carolyn, carry that torch with Pride, you deserve it and we love you.”

Carolyn added:

“A lot of them are coming to line the streets to watch my run which is pretty emotional. We are a tight-knit group, and the team has gone though such a tough time so far in 2012 that it’s so nice to have something positive to do.

“Everyone is really happy for me. Some lucky souls are away on holiday at the time and will be watching me from Spain and USA.”

It has indeed been a tough few months for Roller Derby in Aberdeen. At the moment, GRCG  have no venue locally to compete.

They were housed at the Beach Leisure Centre for over a year, and hosted many national leagues there, competing with teams from as far afield as Leicester.

The first ever Scottish Tournament was held at the BLC back in 2010. However, early this year the BLC refurbished its flooring, and despite no damage having been caused by the skaters, they were informed that we could no longer use the venue.

Having explored many alternatives including schools, colleges and Aberdeen Sports Village, GCRG are still trying desperately to secure a suitable venue in order to continue developing the local league and the sport in general. Carolyn fears that the situation could have a profoundly negative impact on the future of the sport locally.

“The members and volunteers of Granite City Roller Girls have built this sport up from nothing, and being a relatively new and misunderstood sport we have struggled to reach the level that we are at today.

“Roller Derby is a recognised sport and follows rules and infrastructure like any other sport. There are rumours that our governing body the Womens’ Flat Track Derby Association will be creating a European League in the very near future and our aim is to be able to one day compete in it.

“Without the experience that competitive play brings (and the funding that spectator fees generate) there is a very real possibility that the momentum behind the team will cease and the game will keep rolling forward without us. “

Roller Derby is played on an oval track, with a 10 ft clearance zone around it. Adding areas for spectators and team benches the space required for Roller Derby is the equivalent of a double sports hall – 8 badminton courts – 1221m2- circa.13,000 sq.ft.

The existence and availability of such spaces is only part of the problem faced by GCRG, as Carolyn  explained:

“We have been making enquiries into warehouse spaces around Aberdeen, but with Aberdeen being the Oil and Gas Capital of Europe, these spaces all come with a price, and a not-for-profit organisation like ours just cannot compete with Multi-National Companies.

 “Our dream is to have such a space though and we believe it is possible.

“Apart from a warehouse, any venue with wooden or concrete flooring of this size will be suitable. I know there are some schools that have sizeable halls but whether they are as big as we require is a different story.

“As members of Aberdeen Sports Council we have been given some excellent advice on approaching potential new venues which includes talking to schools which is something we are very keen to do.”

If any one has any leads or knows of some way they can help they can contact carolynmackenzie@hotmail.com or use the  www.granitecityrollergirls.org contact form.

Footnote:

Roller Derby is a full contact sport played on quad roller skates – predominantly by women. It is played on an oval track, each team can have 5 players on track at any given time – 4 blockers and 1 jammer.

The jammer wears a star on her head and her role is to score points by passing each blockers hips. The blockers role is to prevent the other team scoring points by physically blocking the jammer and also to assist her own jammer in scoring points by blocking the opposing blockers. It’s one of the few games where offence and defence are played simultaneously.

More about Roller Derby here.

  • Want to wish Carolyn well? Ideas regarding a possible Roller Derby venue? Use the comments box below. Note – All comments will be moderated.
Oct 282011
 

A new music event in Aberdeen aims to rock up support for Aberdeen Royal Infirmary after saving the life of the father of a local musician. With thanks to Eoin Smith.

Jimstock, a one-day music festival held in Aberdeen’s Beach Ballroom on the 5th of November, is the brainchild of well-known local musician Jamie Rodden, 27.
With the help of a cast of Aberdeen’s most popular bands and singers, he aims to rake in cash for the Aberdeen Royal Infirmary departments that helped his dad Jim Rodden, 55, recover from heart surgery earlier this year.

Jamie states:

“Dad ended up staying in Wards 19, 20 and 21, and struck up a real relationship with the staff there. They got him through a very difficult time. The proceeds from the event will go to those wards as a thank you gesture.”

What medics initially thought was a muscle injury turned out to be the start of a terrifying period for the family. Jim, himself a stalwart of the local music scene, who runs the Cellar 35 Open Mic night, said:

“I was complaining of pain for weeks, but the doctor had put it down to muscular pain. One night it got so awful; my chest was thumping, and at one point I felt as though I was nailed to the floor. I thought to myself, ‘This is it.’ I thought I was going to die.”

Jim was admitted to hospital after his heart attack in May and underwent gruelling triple bypass surgery. A further operation was needed when Jim suffered another attack six weeks later.

The dad-of-three said:

 “I met a tremendous group of people at the hospital who made my time there much easier.  I’m still friends with many of them.”

The local community has rallied round in support of Jimstock, with Aberdeen City Council and Grampian Police lending their support alongside other Aberdeen organisations.

Local music blog – Hercules Moments is covering Jimstock, while Cinergi – the Aberdeen University Film-Making Society – plans to produce a documentary of the event, which will be screened in the Belmont Cinema in early 2012.

But the crux of Jimstock is the live music. Jamie and his own band Shy James will be taking to the stage alongside Jim and a host of other top local talent including Stanley, country rocker Amy Sawers, The Lorelei and The Tijuana Sun.

Jamie added:

“We have a special guest headliner for the show – a band who are making a great name for themselves at the moment – but I won’t reveal who they are until the Monday before the event. The support I’ve had so far has been fantastic, and I am truly grateful to everyone involved.”

Tickets for Jimstock cost £15 and are available from One Up,Belmont Street,Aberdeen.

More information can be found at www.facebook.com/jimstock2011

 

Apr 152011
 

By Stephen Davy-Osborne.

With the recent fair weather and the school holidays in full-swing, many visitors to Aberdeen beach may have noticed an addition to Broad Hill.

Situated between the Beach Ballroom and Pittodrie, the small hill is well known as a spot to avoid on a blustery day, but with better weather on the horizon the installation of a new open-air exhibition could not have chosen a better location.

BY ORDER OF ME is a collection of wooden signs scattered across the hill, and is the collective work of visual artist Rachel O’Neill, writer Davey Anderson and 54 pupils from Kingsford Primary School. The collaboration, organised by Extreme Aberdeen and the National Theatre Scotland, in partnership with the City Council’s Art Education team, set out to challenge the way visitors interact with their surroundings.

The signs themselves were inspired by the many prohibitive signs found across the city, and were created to represent many young people’s view of a an urban landscape that is cluttered with signage ordering what can and cannot be done: No Ball Games, No Skateboarding, Keep Off the Grass, to name but a few.

With such signs as “No Kissing on the Hill, I Mean It”, it is evident that those taking in the fresh sea breeze are being encouraged to ponder the world from a different point of view.

While they are not inviting visitors to run amok on Broad Hill (although one sign does state we should run down the hill screaming) the purpose remains to encourage visitors to enjoy their surroundings and the spectacular views across the bay to one side, and the city sky-line to the other. The exhibition will be in place until early next spring.

For further information please visit www.nationaltheatrescotland.com

Feb 112011
 

Are Ye Dancin’?: The Story of Scotland’s Dance Halls – And How Yer Dad Met Yer Ma! – Eddie Tobin with Martin Kielty.

Apparently published 6 months ago, this seems to have a had a marketing push recently so the Voice’s David Innes hangs on grimly as erstwhile promoter Tobin’s history of Scottish dancehalls spins him and his two left feet around an over-slipperened dancefloor.

My favourite story about dancehalls isn’t included in Tobin’s memoirs of the heydays of small town ballrooms and city Locarnos.

Abridged, it concerns a Borders village school full of NE lorry drivers in the early 1960s pre-motorway days, billeted there temporarily for the weekend due to the A74’s closure by snow.

As all the boys wash and dress, apply Brylcreem and polish their shoes preparing to go to the Saturday night dance, one worthy, possibly a Charlie Alexander’s driver, is lying on his mattress, unshaven, smoking and reading the paper. When asked if he’s intending getting ready to demonstrate his slow-slow-quick-quick-slow prowess to the good burghers of Kirkpatrick Fleming, his response is, “Na na, I’m nae muckle o’ a dancer, but be sure and gie’s a shout eence the f***ing starts”.

To anyone who has ever smuggled a half bottle into the toilets at Aberlour’s Fleming Hall, who stood back in awe and no little fear as the Buckpool Boot Boys terrorised 1970s weekends in Cullen and Rothienorman, who “bonded” with a member of the opposite gender in the lanie behind St K’s, or who used the business end of a Guild Bass as an improvised bat as the missiles flew at a Grantown-Rothes contretemps at Archiestown (that Kabul to the locals), Are Ye Dancin’? will be like reading a diary of their mis-spent youth.

Although Tobin’s account of those supposedly-innocent days concentrates mainly on his own reminiscences of wheeling and dealing behind the scenes to promote his own acts, considerable space is given over to the personal anecdotes of agents, managers, patrons and performers from the heyday of dancehalls from post-war onwards, even touching on the modern club scene.

the ensuing three nights of frenetic frugging and torso-torturing twisting were looked forward to all week

In addition, despite much of the collection of memories focussing on palaces of hedonistic delight far removed from our own shared and blessed region of Scotland, the mere mention of Bapper Hendry and Albert Bonici and the premises and acts they guarded fiercely, will delight anyone of that era who ever had to transact with these two lovable but canny entrepreneurs.

The 60s and 70s dominate, a period during which, in the words of the opening credits to Friday evening’s Ready Steady Go, “the weekend starts here” and the ensuing three nights of frenetic frugging and torso-torturing twisting were looked forward to all week as social release by dance addicts holed up in offices and factories throughout the land.

It is a worthy companion piece to Torry’s own incorrigible rogue, Peter Innes’s, marvellous ‘Fit Like New York?’ although not nearly so in-depth or painstakingly-researched. Even at 180 pages, it’ll take no more than half a day to read and wallow in memories of the joys, sorrows and ever-present optimism of youth.

Glance down the index and assimilate the names of temples of weekend pleasure long gone, falling apart or still limping along and you’ll be back in ‘68, anticipating that sweaty crush, the hellishly-blended aroma of smoke, perfume, beer, hair oil, damp and nail varnish in the Broch’s Dalrymple Hall, the Railway Hall, Inverurie, St Congan’s in Turriff, Elgin’s classy Two Red Shoes or the Beach Ballroom itself.

As Wordsworth once wrote, possibly as he anticipated a Friday night huckle-bucking to The Lakes Showband at Grasmere Parish Hall,

Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive,
But to be young was very heaven.

Are Ye Dancin’? Eddie Tobin with Martin Kielty. Waverley Books. 180 pages. £9.99.