Apr 082019

Review and photographs by Craig Chisholm.

Rick Redbeard.

The multi-million-pound revamp of Aberdeen’s Music Hall, has breathed new life and opportunity into the historical and iconic city centre entertainment venue.
One of the innovative schemes was to create more usable space for concerts and events within the building and it is in one of these spaces – the Big Sky Studio – that an early evening show is taking place.

The intimate room, with seating for around 50-100 people depending on layout, provided a unique up-close-and-personal opportunity to see former Phantom Band members Rick Redbeard and Duncan Marquiss perform short sets for a bargain ticket price (only £8.00) and at a quite civilised post-work Friday time (6pm start!).

Opening proceedings is Duncan Marquiss. His set consists of effects laden, ambient guitar soundscapes and space age blues instrumentals that lift the listener to transcendent realms of bliss.

Duncan Marquiss.

Hunched over his bank of guitar pedals, Marquiss coaxes beautiful textures from his instrument looping himself, manipulating the sound to create a cascading ocean of sound textures.

Using a slide or an e-bow to great effect, he strays into the world of avant-garde minimalism and experimentation, creating new and interesting sounds, with a screwdriver under the strings on one track, or laying his instrument on the ground and using small sticks to drum on the strings.

It’s a beautiful and satisfying experimental set that has the audience listening in hushed silence before erupting in rapturous applause at the end.

Rick Redbeard, better known to his parents and friends as Rick Anthony, offers a more straightforward but, nonetheless, satisfying set that is steeped in folky acoustic heritage whilst remaining topical and forward thinking.

His acoustic guitar strapped round him like a shield, he offers a satisfying nine song set of beautiful, heartfelt campfire melodies.

His intricate finger picking style is flawless and mesmerising, creating space to allow the songs to breathe and for the listener to fully embrace his well thought out lyricism.

Songs from his two previous solo albums – ‘No Selfish Heart’ from 2013 and ‘Awake Unto’, released in 2016 – are given an airing alongside sneak previews of a track or two from his proposed third album which he hopes to release this year.

Between songs he is friendly and chatty, acknowledging his family sitting a couple of rows from the front and discussing Brexit and the irony of his track ‘The Golden Age’ given the current political situation.

There’s a moment where a new song is stopped as, he says himself, his “brain and hands stopped communicating” and there’s a moment of amusement – and bemusement – when the tannoy announces that the show in the main hall is due to start in 5 minutes.

But moments like these add to the intimacy and personal feel of the performance rather than detract.

One can only hope that the success of this show encourages the Music Hall staff to organise more events of this nature – the early start is an interesting novelty that may encourage people to seek out new and interesting music and sounds whilst enjoying a post-work pint at the end of the week.

Overall, the evening proved to be a success – enjoyable music, an appreciative audience and a wonderful atmosphere. Here’s to the next one!

Big Sky Sessions returns to the Music Hall at 6pm on Friday 19th April with Iona Fyfe, Calum Morton-Teng and Ellen Gira.

Then on Friday 31st May with The Dark Carnival : Unplugged (which also includes a free glass of whisky).

Tickets for Iona Fyfe are available here. and for The Dark Carnival : Unplugged, click here.

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.

Oct 302018

Craig Chisholm reviews True North 2018. Photographs by Craig Chisholm.

Game Of Thrones’ Aiden Gillen pays tribute to the ‘Thin White Duke’  with David Bowie tribute, ‘Lady Stardust’.

True North returned once again to the heart of Aberdeen with another exciting bill that boasted an eclectic range of artists, a variety of venues, screenings of movies, informative talks and appreciative audiences over its four days.

The best new talents and hotly tipped newcomers shared stages with old pros and veteran performers – and even a ‘Game of Thrones’ star who was there to pay tribute to the late, great David Bowie.

Kicking off on the Thursday night, the Lemon Tree hosted an opening concert that boasted some of the best up and coming Scottish talent.

Opening the night, Glaswegian Zoe Graham provided a low key, intimate performance.

Aided only be an acoustic guitar and her voice this was a display of a mature and introspective talent that’s unusual and impressive for a such a young performer.

Eclecticism was the defining theme of the night as the next two acts explored different musical paths.

Scottish rapper Solareye – backed on-stage tonight by DJ Harvey Kartel – is the frontman of the hip hop band Stanley Odd.

His socially conscious lyrical flow gave the crowd food for thought and displayed a unique and absorbing talent that deserves to be heard by a wider audience.

Final act Man of Moon were a tour-de-force of guitar driven rock.

Their music recalls The Jesus and Mary Chain, Spacemen 3 and a host of krautrock bands. Their droning, feedback drenched wall of noise is absorbing and overpowering, drawing you into their ocean of sound and leaving you exhausted and shell-shocked by the time it’s over.

A fitting end to a wonderful night.

The following night starts with a much more laid back and intense but no means any less absorbing acts as the Tivoli theatre hosts Tracyanne & Danny along with opening act Charles Watson.

The combination of singer songwriters Tracyanne Campbell (Camera Obscura) and Danny Couglan (Crybaby) works well and their soul-warming, indie pop sound is appreciated by a reverential crowd.

Drawing from their highly acclaimed, self-titled debut album their set was both intimate and expansive, offering heart breaking and personal lyrics that had the crowd absorbed, rapt and appreciative.

Opening for them was Charles Watson.

The London based singer / songwriter / producer is possibly best known as the lead singer of indie band Slow Club but he came into himself onstage and gave a great performance that would have won over new fans on the night.

The Lemon Tree hosted the second of the nights performances.

Kicking off proceedings was Manchester based singer-songwriter Ren Harvieu.

Backed by tonight’s headliners, The Magic Numbers, she runs through an engaging support slot that displays influences of soul, rock, indie and jazzy torch songs.

Headline act The Magic Numbers have a wealth of material to draw from.

Their late-night slot keeps the crowd on their toes and out of their beds as they pull out Top 40 hits such as ‘Forever Lost’, ‘Love’s a Game’ and their biggest hit ‘Love Me Like You’.


If there was ever a case of opposites attracts then Saturday nights pairing of the stately, grandeur of His Majesty’s Theatre hosting the feedback heavy, post rock of Mogwai and the apocalyptic electronica of Blanck Mass was it.

Blanck Mass are not an easy listen.

It’s a punishing yet rewarding set that sole member Benjamin John Power performs whilst hidden in virtual darkness with only a screen displaying fractual, confusing and trippy images behind him.

But beneath the pulverising noises are rewarding harmonies and hints of melody – they’re not easy to find at times but are rewarding to the listener that does.

Mogwai also have beautiful and harmonic melodies but unlike Blanck Mass they’re not always as hidden. Their elegant,  engaging, compositions are counteracted by ferocious, feedback driven guitars in what must have been the loudest act to tread the boards of the HMT.

Effortlessly one of the greatest and original talents to emerge from Scotland in the last two decades their revelatory live performances deserve to be seen at least any music fan at least once.

Their ear-splitting volume is balanced beautifully with moments of solace and breath-taking beauty – it’s an amazing performance by the Glaswegian band.

After those pulverising and draining performances it might have been preferable for some to have headed home for a lie down in a dark room to recover, but the Lemon Tree still had something to offer for those with still functioning ear drums.

Singer Colin McIntyre has performed as Mull Historical Society since the turn of the 21st Century and his music is still as fresh and heart-warming now as it was then.

The multi-talented McIntyre – singer, songwriter, playwriter, author – gives a wonderful show that draws heavily from his latest album ‘Wakelines’ as well as early hits such as ‘The Final Arrears’, ‘Animal Cannabus’ and ‘I Tried’.

It’s a great performance and he’ll be back at The Lemon Tree next year with a band that will feature none other than former Suede guitarist in its ranks. Don’t miss him.

Opening for Mull Historical Society is up and coming artist Emme Woods. Her mix of blues, rock, grunge and good old fashioned strong song writing displays a depth of talent that is inspiring to see in someone aged only 23 years.

She may be one of few acts – if not the only – that has a family pet on stage. Nestled on a fur coat to Woods’ left is her dog, Bubbles, who is comfortable enough with the performance to enjoy a snooze during the set.

Hopefully no one else in the crowd had a sleep as they’d have missed a strong performance by someone who is sure to go on to bigger things.

The fourth and final night of the festival still has a couple of big shows to go.

The Lemon Tree provides the late-night setting for Glaswegian indie stars Glasvegas.

The band power through a set that revisits their classic debut album from start to finish that gives the crowd a nostalgic but entertaining finale to the weekend.

The big, star-studded show of the weekend happens earlier in the evening, however, at His Majesty’s Theatre.

‘Lady Stardust – Camille O’Sullivan and friends present the Music of David Bowie’ is a majestic and life affirming show that draws in a crowd of all ages and backgrounds, proving how timeless and all-encompassing the Thin White Duke’s music was.

Irish torch singer O’Sullivan is an inspired host for the evening.


Her performance is chameleon-like and theatrical and she takes on the role with gusto, really getting into the spirit of the performance and taking on Bowie’s ability to get into a role and bring the audience with him.

Her choice of friends and peers to accompany her on this journey are eclectic and diverse.

From Paul Noonan, singer with Bell XI, performing ‘Ashes to Ashes’ to folk singer-songwriter Kathryn Williams performing ‘Kooks’ and with performances by ‘Game of Thrones’ and ‘Peaky Blinders’ star Aiden Gillen, pianist Duke Special and Cathal Coughlan from The Fatima Mansions, it’s an evening of sheer joy for Bowie fans old and young alike.

And special mention must go to comedian and writer Christopher Green.

The towering, flamboyant performer gives a show stopping performance that captures the spirit of Bowie.

His performance is revelatory – camp; serious, touching and funny in the space of a 3-minute pop song. A credit to himself and a credit to Bowie, whose spirit he truly captures.

The spirit of the evening truly reflects the nature of True North – an eclectic, interesting, diverse mix of music that crosses all boundaries and showcases a wide-ranging display of talent.

Jul 282018

The Granite City’s Urban Festival ‘True North’ Announces 2018 Bill. By Craig Chisholm.

Aberdeen’s very own festival in the heart of the city returns for its fourth year this September for a weekend of unmissable music.

The festival, running from the 20th to 23rd September, has announced an eclectic and exciting bill of talent for what promises to be another triumphant event.

His Majesty’s Theatre, The Lemon Tree and The Tivoli Theatre will provide performances from Mogwai, Tracyanne & Danny, The Magic Numbers. Mull Historical Society and Glasvegas, among others, whilst a further programme of artists and free events in unique locations across the city will be announced soon.

The events announced so far are:

  • Tracyanne & Danny – The Tivoli – Friday 21st Sept.
  • The Magic Numbers – The Lemon Tree – Friday 21st Sept.
  • Mogwai – His Majesty’s Theatre – Saturday 22nd Sept.
  • Mull Historical Society – The Lemon Tree – Saturday 22nd Sept.
  • David Bowie Tribute (Curated by Camille O’Sullivan) – His Majesty’s Theatre – Sunday 23rd Sept.
  • Mull Historical Society – The Lemon Tree – Sunday 23rd Sept.

The Lemon Tree will also host the opening concert on Thursday 20th September with a soon to be announced bill featuring some of the country’s leading new rock bands.

Tickets for each event can be purchased online at http://www.aberdeenperformingarts.com/, in person from The Lemon Tree or the Box Office, HMT or by phone on 01224 641122.

Read the Aberdeen Voice’s review of the 2017 event here.

View a gallery of photographs from 2017 here.

Jul 252017

With thanks to Leanne Carter, Account Manager, Tricker PR.

With over 40,000 different types of plants in bloom this summer, Pitmedden Garden is more than used to hosting colourful spectacles.

But nothing could prepare the historic country house for the vivid display of lycra and sequins worn by ABBAMANIA – the world’s longest-running ABBA tribute concert.

As classic hits like Waterloo and Dancing Queen ring out from the stage and the scent of honeysuckle and jasmine wafts through the air, the captivating show on Saturday, July 29 will be a true assault on the senses.

The elegant renaissance garden in Aberdeenshire, which is now managed by the National Trust for Scotland, will be one of the more unusual venues that ABBAMANIA has graced.

However, it’s a stage that the band members have been looking forward to all summer – and one which they believe the original line-up of Agnetha Fältskog, Björn Ulvaeus, Benny Andersson, and Anni-Frid Lyngsta would have loved.

Scots singer Sharon Fehlberg – who has the alter ego of Anni-Frid – says,

“We have performed there once before and it is an absolutely fantastic venue. We were lucky enough to have beautiful weather, so fingers crossed the sun will shine for us again.

“People still love the music of ABBA after all these years because they created timeless pop songs. You just don’t get music like that now.

“The film and stage show Mamma Mia has introduced a new generation to their music, but we have always seen people of different ages in our audience, from five-year-olds to grandparents.

“We love playing in the north because audiences get so into it. The audience reaction is always the same – no matter what the age, they want to have fun and enjoy listening to great music. That kind of enthusiasm lights up the whole place, and as a performer that feeling is amazing.”

ABBAMANIA features the Eurovision winners’ most memorable hits from Winner Takes It All to Take A Chance. The group, which also includes Ewa Scott, Adam Robertson and Steven Galet, focuses on recreating ABBA gigs as audiences would have seen them in the 1970s.

That means that, unlike other tribute acts, there are not scores of backing dancers and complex dance routines. The ABBAMANIA show brings the energy of the performance, but focuses on vocals, musicianship and musical arrangements.

It’s an approach that has resulted in the act, which has been going since 1999, touring all over the UK, Europe and the Philippines, and a trip to the States is also on the cards for 2018.

Sharon Fehlberg of ABBAMANIA – the world’s longest running ABBA tribute act.

Sharon (36) joined ABBAMANIA four-and-a-half years ago after fending off competition from dozens of other hopefuls at an open audition.

She was writing dance music in the studio at the time, but never regrets her decision to don catsuits and capes every weekend.

Some might say that she was destined for a career in showbusiness. Her father is a musician and her mother – Lorraine – was lead singer in the 1970s pop group Middle of the Road, best known for their hit Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep.

She was just three-years-old when she entered a recording studio for the first time, and spent much of her childhood on the road touring with her mum when she was not at school.

Sharon says,

“Music is in my bones and I knew the very first time that I put a microphone in my hand that I wanted to sing. I never thought of doing anything else.

“However, the music business is very, very tough. My mum was quite well known but that meant nothing: I’ve had a lot of doors slammed in my face and a lot of disappointments over the years.

“But eventually your time comes and I was over the moon to join ABBAMANIA. It’s like a dream come true and I have loved every minute of it. I’ve always been a fan of their music, probably because I grew up around that European poppy harmony sound.

“My favourite ABBA song, ever since I was a little girl, is Dancing Queen. It is such a feel-good song and I never get bored singing it. Audiences love it, and it’s amazing to look out and see people enjoying themselves, singing along and dancing.”

ABBAMANIA at Pitmedden Gardens is one of a range of special events being held by the National Trust for Scotland, the country’s largest conservation charity, at its properties over the summer months.

Pitmedden Gardens is an outstanding example of a Scottish renaissance garden and the parterres at its heart are a masterpiece of intricate patterns and colour. It also has six miles of clipped boxed hedging.

The original garden was built in 1675, and it was recreated by the National Trust for Scotland in the 1950s based on designs found at the Palace of Holyrood House in Edinburgh.

Fancy dress is, of course, optional at the ABBAMANIA show, but all are advised to dress warmly. Audience members are encouraged to take a picnic and a rug – or low seating – and some marquee seating is also available.

Tickets are priced £12.50 for adults and £6.50 for children, and are available at www.nts.org.uk. Gates open at 6pm with the show getting underway at 7pm.

The National Trust for Scotland is the charity that celebrates and protects Scotland’s heritage. It relies on the support of its members and donors to carry out its important work of caring for the natural and built heritage of Scotland for everyone to enjoy.

You can join the National Trust for Scotland for as little as £7.50 per month for a family. To become a member, visit http://www.nts.org.uk/Join/Benefits/.

You can make a difference and help protect everything in our care. Donate online at https://www.nts.org.uk/Donations/

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Mar 132015

Steve Harris, Chief Executive of VisitAberdeen – Copyright: Newsline Scotland

With thanks to Stevie Brown, Tricker PR.

Plans for a new state-of-the-art £333m Aberdeen Exhibition and Conference Centre (AECC) have been approved. The planned 15,000 capacity conference and concert venue, will almost double to capacity of the current  AECC which has a maximum capacity of 8,500, and will include conference facilities, a concert hall, two hotels and a green energy plant, aimed at offsetting costs.

Planners are in discussion with Aloft Hotels and Hilton regarding the construction of two onsite hotels which would provide up to an additional 350 rooms for the city.

Subject to planning permission, the new venue will be based in Dyce near Aberdeen International Airport.

Steve Harris, Chief Executive of VisitAberdeen says,

“The announcement that the plans for the new Aberdeen Exhibition and Conference Centre have been approved can only strengthen the international event and conference product Aberdeen offers. The AECC contributes over £80m to the north-east economy each year, which increases to approximately £140m during the biennial Offshore Europe exhibition.     

“Aberdeen has a strong conference product, and was ranked in 11th position in The British Meetings and Events Industry Survey in 2014 for business tourism and events. The new exhibition centre will address the need for a bigger purpose built facility, to accommodate the requirements of the conference and entertainment event industry, and without it, Aberdeen will most certainly lose out on future events and the economic benefits that they bring to the city.

“The new location of the centre positioned near Aberdeen International Airport is a significant move, and will make travel to and from the venue even easier than the existing site for international visitors. The state-of-the-art conference centre is a hugely valuable investment to Aberdeen and we look forward to welcoming even more corporate and leisure events to the city.”  

VisitAberdeen is a partnership between Aberdeen City Council and the industry including Aberdeen City and Shire Hotels Association and Aberdeen Inspired. For further information contact VisitAberdeen on 01224 900490 or visit www.visitaberdeen.com.

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[Aberdeen Voice accepts and welcomes contributions from all sides/angles pertaining to any issue. Views and opinions expressed in any article are entirely those of the writer/contributor, and inclusion in our publication does not constitute support or endorsement of these by Aberdeen Voice as an organisation or any of its team members.]

Feb 122015

eofe_hammersmith_tomleishman-2__large (1)With thanks to Jenny Entwistle, Chuff Media.

Black Country 5-piece EofE are coming to play Aberdeen Downstairs on 23rd February, supporting UK metallers Glamour of the Kill. The tour will be in support of their brand new single ‘Stars In Hollywood’ (out 09/03) which is currently on the Kerrang! Radio and XFM playlists.

Last year, the band supported both McBusted and The Vamps on their mammouth UK tours, culminating 2014 with their own headline tour which resulted in them selling out their hometown date at Birmingham Institute.

Following the unveiling of their debut track ‘Bridges’ in November, EofE, continue to leave their mark with the release of the band’s first official single, ‘Stars In Hollywood’, due March 9th.

With their ever-growing army of devoted supporters, ‘Stars In Hollywood’ is a second helping of scintillating pop rock from EofE, sending out a real statement of intent. The song lyrically explores the theme of determination and hope, with aspirations of eventually leaving their hometown, moving on to bigger things and rising to the top.

‘Stars In Hollywood’ is the next chapter of the EofE story, placing the band firmly alongside the likes of fellow UK rockers You Me At Six and Mallory Knox .

“EofE are going to be the next big thing” – Sophie K (Team Rock Radio)

Tour Dates:

23rd February – Aberdeen, Downstairs 

24th February – Glasgow, Audio

25th February – Newcastle, Think Tank

26th February – Manchester, Sound Control

27th February – York, Fibbers

28th February – London, Underworld

1st March – Bristol, The Exchange

3rd March – Wolverhampton, Slade Rooms

4th March – Stoke, Sugarmill

5th March – Nuneaton, Queens Hall

6th March – Nottingham, Rock City Basement

7th March – Gloucester, Guildhall

8th March – Milton Keynes, Crauford Arms

Nov 212014

Paul Rodgers. Deborah Bonham. The Royal Albert Hall. Add in a Scottish animal shelter and the result was an unforgettable night of music, all to raise funds and awareness for Willows Animal Sanctuary. Suzanne Kelly caught the show and caught up with the generous people who made it happen.

Paul Rodgers and his wife Cynthia Kereluk Rodgers visited Willows a few years back, and became generous, hands-on patrons, who got to know the staff and the animals. Their hard work over the years has helped to make Willows’ future more secure. A horse-mad animal lover, rock and blues singer Deborah Bonham has also joined the Willows cause.

Her husband Peter Bullick, their band and their families likewise have come to Willows’ aid these past few years.

The artists involved are serious life-long animal lovers, directly involved in rescuing animals.

Paul Rodgers said:

“Such a unique charity that combines helping vulnerable people, with their Assisted Therapy Program, plus Willows employs four such people as well as provides a sanctuary before heaven for unwanted, abused, old and handicapped animals. Aiding people and animals is a win, win situation.

“As Patrons both Cynthia and myself are keen to support Willows to help them continue the amazing work they do in the community for mankind and animal kind.”

The generosity of all concerned reached a remarkable climax at the Royal Albert Hall on the 3rd of November: Paul and Cynthia organised a concert to benefit Willows. All profits are going to Willows; everyone who was at this show had a night of music which will not soon be forgotten.

Deborah Bonham commented:

“It was such an honour to be asked by Paul Rodgers and his beautiful wife Cynthia Kereluc Rodgers to appear at the Royal Albert Hall to help raise funds for Willows Animal Sanctuary and Assisted Animal Therapy. It was such an incredible night and one that I won’t forget. Willows is a charity close to my heart and to know that we have raised the much needed funds for them to survive the winter is fantastic. The work they do with animals and vulnerable people is inspirational, I’m so pleased I was able to help and be a part of it all.”

Deborah opened the show accompanied by keyboard artist Gerard Lewis. This was a new arrangement for the band, which normally features Peter Bullick on (blistering) guitars and mandolin; keyboard player Gerard Louis; on bass Ian Rowley; and the awesome Frank Benbini of the Fun Lovin’ Criminals, filling in for regular drummer Rich Newman.

It would have been nice to hear the full line up at the RAH, but as it was, the arrangement of Deborah with Gerard showcased her voice in a way that really filled the hall to great effect. Her powerful lyrics and vocals reach some astonishing emotional highs and lows and were superb on the night.

Long-time follower Lorraine Adams Robertson attended with husband Michael. She said:

“Deborah was brilliant!  … and G too her keyboard player… her singing gives me goose bumps as always, and her voice makes me cry with emotion.” 

The strangers I sat next to volunteered how much they enjoyed her. I explained that she usually performs with a band: they are determined to go and see her, and pick up Spirit, the latest album.

Deborah’s set included a wide variety of her songs spanning several albums – Love You So, What We Got, Hold On, Grace, Duchess (sassy), I Need Love (haunting, passionate) and Stay With Me Baby. Her voice is what the Royal Albert Hall is designed for.  [Note – Deborah is currently recovering from an illness; best wishes for a speedy, complete recovery].

More information on albums and tours for the Deborah Bonham Band here http://www.deborahbonham.com/ .

Paul Rodgers has a career like no one else’s. His iconic work with Free, Bad Company and The Firm are not the full extent of his interests and talents.

The new Royal Sessions work showcases Rodgers’ powerful voice in traditional blues classics which he sings, accompanied by some of the world’s greatest blues musicians. He has gone back to the music that inspired him from the beginning, and paid it a stunning tribute. On his Facebook Page Paul wrote:

I forget how good these guys and gals are until I play with them again. Rehearsals were fantabulous, even if there isn’t such a word. We are all here in London and are ready to rock and soul.” 

The crowds were going wild for it. A favourite with fans, ‘Walk in My Shadow’ was astonishing with such a backing band behind it, and it was a pleasure to be there to hear it live.

Blues staple ‘The Hunter’ was powerful; an interesting arrangement of ‘Walk On By’ was thrilling, and ‘Can’t Get Enough Of Your Love’ had us all in the aisles singing along. ‘I Can’t Stand The Rain’ was another standout: Rodgers was to record that for Jools  Holland a day or so later. The track can be found here http://www.bbc.co.uk/music/records/nzq2fj.

More on the landmark Royal Sessions album can be found here http://paulrodgers.com/release/the-royal-sessions/ .

Willows supporters and staff are hugely grateful to the artists and producer (and MC and guitarist) Perry Margouleff who helped to make this show a reality.

Jenny Gray of Willows said

“Willows would like to send enormous thanks to our amazing Patrons Paul Rodgers and his wife Cynthia Kereluk Rodgers for their amazing support and generosity. Huge thanks to Deborah Bonham and Peter Bullick for helping make it a truly amazing night. These people have done so much to help Willows through a challenging time, they are genuine animal lovers and truly care about Willows. Thanks to all friends and family that helped on the night too. This fundraiser will really help the winter feed appeal.”

The funds raised from this night of wonderful music will certainly help Willows, but the charity needs to be able to rely on steady donations large and small in order to budget adequately.  Times are tough for everyone; they are very tough for animals. Pets are being abandoned at an alarming rate; horses and ponies too are being neglected and left without food and water.

Without charities like Willows, North East Scotland’s largest animal charity and a centre for animal-assisted therapy which helps many people, young and old (six of Willows employees are vulnerable people), the outlook is bleak.

If you missed the concert, but want a chance at winning some great prizes, here is your chance

Sign up to become ‘A Friend of Willows’ Help make a difference now!

If you sign on to become a ‘Friend of Willows’, at just £1 (2 US dollars) per week, by November 30, 2014 you are eligible to win:

Autographed Bad Company Guitar

Paul Rodgers Autographed Set List from The Royal Albert Hall Concert

Deborah Bonham Autographed Set List (from the Concert)

Paul Rodgers Autographed Royal Sessions LP or Cash Prizes

After careful thought, and with the help of all our supporters (and it will only work with your help) we hope we have found a way to get Willows a regular income. What we are hoping is that every ‘Friend’ who signs up for a minimum donation of £1 (2 US dollars) a week asks two other people to sign up too. It would quickly make a chain of regular donors, with each ‘Friend of Willows’ donating only a very small amount each month, the cost of a magazine or a coffee.

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Sep 052014

Paul Rodgers – Free, Bad Company, The Firm, and an astounding solo career – and with his wife Cynthia a patron of Willows Animal Sanctuary. Paul will play an amazing one-off show on 3 November 2014 at London’s iconic Royal Albert Hall: All the proceeds from Paul Rodgers RAH show below will go to the Willows Animal Sanctuary and Animal Assisted Therapy Unit in Aberdeenshire www.willowsanimals.com. Joining Paul on stage will be the Deborah Bonham band. Deborah is likewise a generous supporter of Willows Animal Sanctuary. Thanks to Frontier Promotions.

Paul_Rodgers_Mic_Credit_Jim_McGuire featGrowing up listening to such artists as Ray Charles, Sam Cooke and Otis Redding would have a profound effect on Paul Rodgers. From his early work with Free, through to Bad Company and many successful collaborations and solo projects, those early R&B influences have always been with him.
With his latest album ‘THE ROYAL SESSIONS’, recorded in Memphis at Willie Mitchell’s Royal Recording Studios, Paul Rodgers finally realised his life-long dream of making a classic soul album, using studio musicians who played on so many of his favourite records that he heard at an early age.

Paul and the studio players now bring ‘THE ROYAL SESSIONS LIVE’ to The Royal Albert Hall on Monday 3rd November 2014.

From Jim Stewart’s Stax studio, home to classic recordings by Otis Redding, Sam and Dave, Wilson Pickett and Isaac Hayes, to Chips Moman’s American Studios, where such timeless soul records as James Carr’s ‘Dark End of the Street’ were recorded, Memphis was the heartbeat of American soul music.

Willie Mitchell’s Hi Records label would emerge from this amazing music city and find worldwide success, particularly with Al Green and Ann Peebles, all recorded at Willie’s Royal Recording Studios.

The reaction has been exceptional, with the album going to No.1 on the Billboard Blues Chart and with singles from the album, ‘I Thank You’ a No.1 and ‘Born Under A Bad Sign’ a No.2 on the Mediabase Classic Rock Charts.

The band features:

Reverend Charles Hodges Sr. – Hammond B3,
Leroy Hodges Jr. – Bass Guitar,
Archie “Hubby” Turner – Wurlitzer,
Michael Toles – Guitar,
Steve Potts – Drums.

The Royal Horns:
Marc Franklin – Trumpet,
James L. Spake – Baritone Sax,
Gary Topper – Tenor Sax,
Lannie “The Party” McMillan Jr. – Tenor Sax.

The Royal Singers:
Shontelle and Sharisse Norman

Paul_Rodgers_Royal_Studios (2) (1)Cynthia Kereluk and husband Paul Rodgers are more than just check-writing patrons; they are actively promoting and fundraising on a personal level. Their memorable visit to Willows in 2012 greatly helped to raise Willow’s profile; more on their visit can be found here https://aberdeenvoice.com/2012/06/rock-n-roll-animals-paul-rodgers-cynthia-kereluk/

They are genuine animal lovers, and have rescued many strays personally over the years.

Deborah Bonham, currently on tour with the Deborah Bonham Band promoting her widely-acclaimed new album, Spirit, is also a devoted animal lover, supporting Willows and other animal charities.

Deborah posted on her Facebook page:

“I’m ecstatic to tell you that it’s confirmed that Pete and myself will be opening for PAUL RODGERS at THE ROYAL ALBERT HALL NOV 3RD. This is Paul’s Royal Sessions show with the guys from Memphis and I have to say it’s a total honour to be a part of this show. After much discussion we felt that it would right to do the show as a duo so this is a new challenge for Pete and I and it’s exciting!

“All profits from the night will go to Willows Animal Sanctuary of which Paul and his wife are Patrons and which Pete and I have supported for a long time.

“In fact, we are doing the ‘Willows Challenge’ to try and get 4000 people all paying £1 per week to keep this charity afloat and take care of the many animals incl racehorses, ponies, donkeys, pigs, sheep, rabbits, cats, dogs….. If you want to get involved, go to willows website http://www.willowsanimals.com/ and set up a standing order for £1 per week.

“I really hope to see some of you at The Albert Hall and hope you will sign up for our £1 per week challenge. Much love to you all always and forever, Deborah.”

More on Deborah’s album, her fantastic band, and tour dates here: http://www.deborahbonham.com/

Willows animal sanctuary takes in domestic, farm and wild animals and will never destroy a healthy animal.

Unfortunately in today’s economically-challenged times, the cost of food and veterinary care are going up, and many people are abandoning horses, cats and dogs. Willows has been inundated with more mouths to feed, and is reliant on the donations to do its work with animals and its animal assisted therapy. Please join the Willows Challenge.

Aberdeen Voice will have a review of the Paul Rodgers Royal Albert Hall show in due course.

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Mar 182014

Deborah Bonham launches her new album, Spirit, with some Scottish dates.  A supporter of Aberdeenshire’s Willows Animal Sanctuary and lifelong animal lover, Deborah has dates in Dumfries (Friday 21 March   http://www.thevenuedumfries.co.uk) and Kinross (Saturday 22 March http://www.mundellmusic.com/). With thanks to Suzanne Kelly.

deborah bonham pic 1

The spirit in the songs and music of Deborah Bonham draws on the hurt, pain, joy and anger that come with life for all of us. Negatives are decanted as positivity, from mistakes comes learning.

From that spirit comes the determination to always push forward and celebrate life, sharing experiences with her audience.

As she sings in the opening salvo from the album: “Pain is going away, it’s gonna stop today. I’m gonna fly”.  So there could be only one title for the new album: ‘SPIRIT’

But Deborah also has soul.  It’s the soul that comes from her deep love and understanding of so many musical greats – Otis Redding, Aretha Franklin, Etta James, Bonnie Raitt, Lowell George and many more – all of whom are artists who surrounded themselves with great musicians who had that same ‘feel’.

And so it is with Deborah’s band. It’s also their instinctive affinity with the words being sung and how they absorb her emotions; sometimes soft, sometimes fierce.

Recorded at a highly charged, personally emotional time in Chichester UK and Nashville USA, Deborah instinctively channeled all that was going on in her life into the sessions, which she co-produced with Glenn Skinner (Deborah Harry, Killing Joke), who also manned the desk for her last album, ‘Duchess’.

On Drums is Marco Giovino (Robert Plant’s Band of Joy, John Cale, Norah Jones).

Marco flew in especially from Nashville to record the drums in a Chapel local to Deborah and she then joined him in Nashville to finish the recording and mix with Mike Poole (Band of Joy, Rickie Lee Jones) and master with Jim DeMain (Michael McDonald, John Hiatt).

Pedal steel supremo B.J.Cole also guests together with a special guest appearance from Robert Plant on harmonica, whilst the remainder of the musicians are her long-time, forceful working band – including bassist Ian Rowley, keyboardist Gerard Louis, and guitarist Peter Bullick.

Embracing more than ever before the bands’ rootsy-Americana influences of the likes of Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers and Little Feat, ‘Spirit’ seamlessly travels through Deborah’s songbook of original compositions, alongside two co-written with John Hogg (Moke, Hookah Brown – with the Black Crowes’ Rich Robinson) and ‘Painbirds’, written by the late Mark Linkous and originally recorded by Sparklehorse for their debut album.

In the same way that Hendrix made Bob Dylan’s ‘All Along The Watchtower’ his own and as did Joe Cocker with The Beatles’ ‘A Little Help From My Friends’, Deborah Bonham and band firmly stamp their identity on this stunningly powerful song.

Elsewhere on the album, mandolin, cello and dobro weave throughout ‘Fly’ (co-written with John Hogg and Simon Sessler) and the irresistible ‘Take Me Down’ the first single to be released and a ReverbNation Rock Chart Number One – twice – which is perhaps reminiscent of The Eagles’ ‘Take It Easy’ but more intriguingly, uses a recurring lyrical theme in Deborah’s work – that of the mercurial nature of the rivers and the seas, to heal or devour.

Throughout, Deborah’s sympathetic band sear, coax, blend, sweeten, compliment, rock and groove

The Cajun stomp of ‘What It Feels’ builds on Marco Giovino’s percussive box of tricks, giving way to a harmonica solo from Robert Plant, that delivers  in the most concise way and not heard perhaps since Led Zeppelin’s ‘Custard Pie’.

The Byrds-esque ‘I Won’t Let You Down’ follows before a sultry, hot n sticky atmosphere permeates ‘Good Times’ and there are echoes of Christine McVie and Bonnie Bramlett sweetly lingering in Deborah’s delivery of  album closer, ‘Lay Me Down’.

Perhaps the most tellingly autobiographical song is ‘Spirit In Me’. If there is a defining song of this albums’ genesis and attitude, then this is it – lovingly dressed with B.J Cole’s sympathetic, yet playful pedal steel performance.

Throughout, Deborah’s sympathetic band sear, coax, blend, sweeten, compliment, rock and groove, proving (if proof be needed) why Paul Rodgers would have them as his band of choice for recent shows drawn entirely from his catalogue of legendary songs by Free.

This Deborah Bonham ‘live’ band also includes drummer Rich Newman (Sam Brown, Steve Marriott, Rory Gallagher) and the band have showcased several of the new songs in recent months, including the show-stopping, classic Bonham blues rock ballad, ‘I Need Love’ at Festivals and shows in the UK and Europe: The Great British Rock & Blues Festival, the massive Harley-Davidson European H.O.G. Rallies in France, Austria and Portugal and The Great British Folk Festival, where, even in the bands’ stripped-down acoustic format, the songs connected with the audience.

And why? Because they all see and feel the SPIRIT.