Nov 082019
 

Craig Chisholm reviews Happy Mondays/Fat Cops at The Music Hall – 24th Oct.

Madchester legends the Happy Mondays rolled back the years and brought the spirit of baggy and the halcyon days of the Hacienda Club to the Music Hall in an enjoyable and entertaining set.

The evening’s mood was set with an interesting set by support act, Fat Cops.

Their name may not be familiar but some of their faces were – comedian Al Murray was on drums and the guitarist, Bobby Bluebell, is the writer of Scottish pop classic and number 1 hit “Young at Heart” by The Bluebells.

And, just to add to the surreal line up, the keyboard player is originally from Huntly. Oh, and he and happens to be married to Harry Potter author JK Rowling.

Fortunately, their music is decent enough to fend off any accusations of a mid-life crises. Their blend of funk, rock, soul and dance music is catchy and memorable.
Tracks such as ‘Rock Star’, ‘Dehydrated’ and ‘Hot Tub’ quickly draw a healthy crowd through from the bar and earn themselves a few new fans in the process.

With the house lights dimmed and thumping dance music playing in the half hour after Fat Cops leave the stage, the atmosphere for Happy Mondays is reaching boiling point by the time Happy Mondays come on.

Bounding to the lip of the stage and engaging in his signature “freaky dancing”, Bez is the undisputed star of the show.

Not quite as svelte as he used to be, he still manages to dance non-stop throughout the set whilst engaging with the crowd – whether posing for photos wearing a bucket hat that has been thrown on stage or reaching up to the balcony to shake hands with punters.

Lead vocalist, Shaun Ryder, is much less animated but still as compelling as ever.

Hidden behind dark sunglasses and a baseball cap he’s a lot more enigmatic. However, his between song banter is casual and relaxed – although he seems to be constantly looking to a video prompter for lyrics and to find out what song is next.
His voice may not be as it once was but he still has that star quality.

The rest of the band, including Shaun’s brother Paul on bass, is tight, with original backing singer Rowetta making up for any slight misgivings in Shaun’s vocals through her powerful performance.

The set list is comprehensive and trawls through the Mondays classic catalogue – ‘Dennis and Lois’, ‘Kinky Afro’, ’24 Hour Party People’ and ‘Loose Fit’ are all given an airing.

Undisputed highlights, however, are ‘Step On’, ‘Hallelujah’ and a banging ‘Wrote for Luck’.

A great performance by a great band who, despite their well-documented years of excess, still have the energy and enthusiasm to get the crowd excited.

Oct 212019
 

Review and photos by Craig Chisholm.

Now in its 5th year Aberdeen’s True North Festival has long since proved itself to be the most entertaining, eclectic and rewarding event in the music calendar for the North East of Scotland.

Its wide range of events and artists have started to draw in the crowds from afar. 

Saturday night headliners, The Twilight Sad in particular attracted fans from across Europe and even as far afield as Australia, albeit via England.

Events kicked off with the now traditional Thursday night performance at the Lemon Tree – one which, quite literally, blew the roof off.

It’s a night of punk attitude and organised chaos as London alternative rock band Shame and hotly tipped up and coming Glaswegian band Rascalton entertained the crowds. Rascalton’s set is an engaging and entertaining blast of no-nonsense Clash inspired garage punk, soaked in Buckfast and Glaswegian street attitude.

They’ve already been hotly tipped by the NME as well as local and national press and it’s not hard to see why as they snarl, shout and pound through a adrenalin fuelled opening set. They’re back in Aberdeen on the 14th December at the Cellar – miss them at your peril.

Headliners, Shame share the same punk ethos backed up with boundless energy and enthusiasm.

The band are championed by the likes of Radio 6 Music DJ Steve Lamaq and contemporaries of bands such as Idles and Fontaines DC.

Frontman Charlie Steen is a blur of energy as he stalks the stage and dives into the crowd on numerous occasions.

And it’s on one of those occasions that he inadvertently brings the roof down by knocking tiles off the ceiling and into the crowd. The tiles are clutched like trophies by the hyperactive mosh pit as they lose themselves in a great energetic set.

Friday –thankfully – starts in a more laid back and relaxed fashion at the wonderful Tivoli Theatre with an opening set by the equally wonderful Martha Ffion.

The Irish born, Glasgow based songwriter runs through a set that’s influenced by classic songwriting, stirring dream pop and the shadow of Glaswegian indie stalwarts such as Belle and Sebastian.
Her melodic, catchy songs would have won a few new converts on the night.

Wick rock band Neon Waltz are next up. They’ve already played True North in previous years so will not be strangers to a lot of the crowd.
In that time they’ve matured in style and poise and have honed their stage craft, no longer naïve youngsters from the North of Scotland but a band capable of International appeal.

Headliner, Bill Ryder Jones is quite the veteran by now with over 20 years of experience at the still young age of 36.

He started playing with Merseyside rockers, The Coral as far back as 1996, when they formed, and was their guitarist for 5 albums, leaving in 2008.

Since then he has become an accomplished solo artist, standing on his own merits and releasing 5 solo albums and even scoring the music to a few short films.
His sound is dreamy and expansive recalling, at times, the sonic adventures of shoegaze whilst still displaying his song writing talents.

From the Tivoli, it’s a quick walk up to the Lemon Tree for the evenings other main performance.

Originally to be headlined by BC Camplight, he had to pull out the day previous due to illness.

Fortunately, local treasure Kathryn Joseph volunteered to step in and perform a short opening set which allowed original opening act The Ninth Wave to step deservedly up to headliner status.

Kathryn should be no stranger to anyone in the Aberdeen music scene, or even to those further afield.

She cut her teeth locally working in The Lemon Tree, performing in bars and venues such as the Tunnels.

Her sparse, haunting minimalist music, consisting mainly of piano and vocals, has led to critical acclaim, winning the 2015 SAY awards album of the year, and to recognition by her contemporaries and her musical influences, even appearing on the bill for The Cure’s feted 2018 Hyde Park concert at the behest of Robert Smith.

As usual she doesn’t fail to deliver with an inspiring set of melancholic songs and her now trademark swear word heavy between song banter. A joy to behold, as was expected.

Headline band, The Ninth Wave transport the crowd back in time to the early 80s New Romantic Blitz Club, whilst pushing forward with their synth heavy retro-futurism.

Their sound and style may not be for anyone old enough to remember the likes of Soft Cell or Japan but their ice cool demeanour and ability to engage the crowd provides an entertaining and enlightening set.
.

The weekend brings out the bigger events with both Saturday and Sunday’s early evening performances taking place at the newly refurbished Music Hall.

Headlining on Saturday is Scottish indie rock band The Twilight Sad.
It’s a triumphant gig for them, almost a homecoming as lead singer James Graham is no stranger to the area, having members of his Mother’s family staying in the North East.

He looks and sounds genuinely thrilled to be performing at the Music Hall, telling stories of passing it as a youngster and promising to his Dad that he would play there one day.

The band have played various smaller venues in Aberdeen in previous years – working themselves up from the Tunnels and the late, lamented Moshulu through the Lemon Tree and now to here.

Powering through a set heavy on tracks from latest album ‘It Won/t Be Like This All The Time’ and featuring an touching cover of Frightened Rabbit’s ‘Keep Yourself Warm’, it’s an emotional and powerful set that steals the weekend.

Opening for The Twilight Sad are Aidan Moffat & RM Hubbert.

This is the penultimate performance of their collaboration before they return to their solo careers.

To be honest, the two of them can do no wrong whether together or apart and tonight’s show is a wonderful showcase of their respective talents, their eye for a melody and the lyrical genius of their songs.

As much as it’s great they’ll be back performing solo you have to hope that there’s a reformation in a few years which produces new material of an equally high standard.

Late night at the Lemon Tree is more dance orientated the euphoric rave of Free Love and the Electro pop of Self Esteem.

Free Love are an entertaining and engaging live act, refusing to be constrained behind a bank of synths and mixers like most acts of this style.

Flanked by a pair of ladies in robes and holding flowers, lead singer Suzi Rodden throws herself completely into the performance, dancing barefoot into the crowd, writhing on the bar and spreading the gospel of Free Love’s high-NRG utopian dance music.
.

No less restrained, but less likely to bump into you and spill your pint whilst you’re at the back of the venue, are Self Esteem. The new project of former Slow Club singer and multi-instrumentalist Rebecca Lucy Taylor, the band is a move from her former indie folk act and into pure pop.
Complete with choreographed dance moves, matching red outfits and loads of hooks and melody she easily wins over the Saturday night crowd and keep them dancing well past midnight.

There’s one more gig at the Lemon Tree and that’s late on Sunday night as Ibibio Sound Machine take to the stage.

Fronted by the colourful and flamboyant singer Eno Williams the band perform an impressive set of West African funk and electro. The clash of styles works well and their visual, eye catching style lends to the occasion, giving a cosmopolitan and worldly flair not usually seen in Aberdeen on a Sunday night.

Before that, at the Music Hall, the stars are out in force for a run through of Scottish rock and pop classics under the banner of Rip It Up Live!

Taking their name from the classic Orange Juice track and influenced by the 2018 National Museum of Scotland exhibition, an array of talented Scottish performers, both established and up-and-coming, run a through a 25 track set that covers everything from the Cocteau Twins to Simple Minds; Garbage to The Associates & from the Eurythmics to The Proclaimers it’s an entertaining and rewarding through Scottish pop history.

Curated by Radio DJ Vic Galloway, the all star cast includes TV presenter and frontman of The Skids, Richard Jobson, actress and legendry frontwoman of Altered Images, Claire Grogan, Del Amitri frontman Justin Currie, punk pioneers The Rezillos and many, many more.

Credit again for the festival must go to Aberdeen Performing Arts who have made it yet another weekend to remember. See you again in 2020!

Jul 312019
 

Review and photos by Craig Chisholm.

A bit of the Deep South came to the Far North as Kentucky rockers, Black Stone Cherry took their Family Tree tour to the Music Hall in Aberdeen.
The sold out date could almost be described as an intimate show as the band are more likely to be seen in much larger venues nowadays.

Dates last year included a headline slot at the cavernous Hydro in Glasgow and as main support to the mighty Guns n’ Roses at the 80,000 capacity Download festival.

Just days after their trip to the Granite City and they are, in fact, headlining another festival, the Ramblin’ Man Fair, in front of 15,000 adoring fans – 10 times the number that are packed liked sardines into tonight’s sold out show. But before the band take to the stage there’s the matter of a couple of up and coming support acts for the crowd to digest.

Coming on stage as the stragglers are still filtering through the main doors of the venue were another set of Kentucky rockers – the hirsute, rootsy rockers, Otis. Their short 30 minute set was a mix of blues and classic rock heavily sprinkled with lots of Southern fried boogie.

In front of a surprisingly busy Music Hall – considering the early stage time – they won over the crowd quite easily with their infectious rock n’ roll. Definitely a band to watch out for in the future.

Next up, The Kris Barras Band are a heavier proposition. The Devon born guitarist plays stripped back, no nonsense rock n’ roll. Searing bluesy guitar solos and raucous, soaring tracks showcase his talents and undeniable skills.

Judging by the amount of t-shirts bearing his name in the audience then the time to watch him is now, with no waiting around for the future. With a new album out in September expect to see more coverage of him and his band in the press and airwaves and, crucially, in the live environment where he belongs.

Black Stone Cherry come onstage to a rapturous reception by the devoted audience.

Opening with the thunderous ‘Me and Mary Jane’ the band plough through a 16 song set that lasts an hour and a half and doesn’t let up at any point.
The energetic first few songs see guitarist Ben Wells and bassist Jon Lawhon run around the stage hyperactively, swapping sides and hanging over the crowd, working them into a mad frenzy.

Lead vocalist and guitarist Chris Robinson has to raise his voice to be heard over the adoring crowd who sing the songs word for word. And, stage rear, drummer John Fred Young tosses and catches his drumsticks in the air but anchors the maelstrom with his thunderous rhythms and pin point accurate beats.

After a few songs the band have to catch a breath, lest they collapse with exhaustion. He tells the crowd that they headlined a show at a castle in Wales last night and they wondered how they could top that tonight but, as he says:

“We remembered we were coming to Scotland.”

This wins over the crowd even further – not that they needed to by this point – and sets the tone for the rest of the show.

They’re a band that care about their fans and engage with the crowd.

There’s plenty of clap-a-longs and call and response interaction. They even call out, by name, a fan in the front row that had been petitioning online for them to start playing a deep cut from an old album – and, of course, they play it live tonight for him.

Songs from all eras of the band’s history are played – from 2006’s eponymous debut right up to the latest album ‘Family Tree’.

A rollicking cover version of Johnny Cash’s ‘Folsom Prison Blues’ is segued seamlessly into from their own track ‘Hollywood in Kentucky’ and massive singalongs such as ‘Blame it on the Boom Boom’ are dispatched flawlessly and confidently in front of the awe struck crowd.

It’s a triumphant performance by a band at the peak of their powers –and the there’s no doubt the adoring crowd realised this and appreciated it accordingly.

Black Stone Cherry set list: 

Me and Mary Jane
Burnin’
Blind Man
In My Blood
Bulldozer
Soulcreek
Bad Habit
Hollywood in Kentucky / Folsom Prison Blues
My Last Breath
Cheaper to Drink Alone
Ain’t Nobody
Blame It On The Boom Boom
White Trash Millionaire
Lonely Train
Family Tree

Encore:

Peace Is Free

Jun 212019
 

By Craig Chisholm.

Aberdeen’s award-winning music festival True North returns this September for another star-studded bill.
The main event will surely be `Rip it Up Live – A Celebration of Scottish Pop`, which takes place on Sunday, September 22.

This unique event follows previous years tributes to Kate Bush, Neil Young, David Bowie and Fleetwood Mac and will be curated and hosted by BBC broadcaster Vic Galloway.

Guest singers will include Claire Grogan of Altered Images, King Creosote, Emma Pollock from The Delgados, Richard Jobson of The Skids, Fay Fyfe and Eugene Reynolds of The Rezillos, Aberdeen’s own Kathryn Joseph, Honeyblood’s Stina Tweeddale, C Duncan, and Ross Leighton (Fatherson) performing some of their favourite songs from seven decades of Scottish pop.

Vic Galloway commented:

“Being involved in the ‘Rip It Up – The Story of Scottish Pop’ exhibition, book, TV and Radio Series was such a pleasure and an honour for me in 2018. The reaction at home and abroad was astonishing, and just showed how many talented musicians this country has created over the years.

“Taking the concept onstage as a LIVE concert at ‘True North’ adds a whole new dimension. With names from the past, present and future of Scottish Pop; it’s going to be a unique, one-off event celebrating seven decades of homegrown music at the festival.

“I cannot wait to share it all with festival goers from both near and far!”

The remainder of the weekend will see gigs taking place at the Music Hall, Lemon Tree, and Tivoli, as well as Fringe events in various locations across the city.

Scottish indie rockers The Twilight Sad will be taking to the Music Hall stage as Saturday headliners, fresh from a summer supporting The Cure, and will be joined by special guests Aidan Moffat and RM Hubbert.

True North will open on Thursday, September 19 at the Lemon Tree with critically acclaimed London punk band Shame.

The London five piece have swiftly earned a reputation as one of the most visceral and exhilarating live bands in the UK and are sure to raise the roof at the Lemon Tree, kicking off True North in style.

Support comes in the form of Glasgow 4-piece indie-rock outfit Rascalton, who will be opening the festival, and DJ Retrospectre.

The Tivoli Theatre will again host a festival gig this year. Friday night’s headline event will feature former guitarist and co-founder of The Coral, Bill Ryder-Jones.

Now a singer-songwriter, producer and composer in his own right, he has collaborated with some of the biggest names in UK music including Arctic Monkeys, The Last Shadow Puppets, Blur’s Graham Coxon and Paloma Faith.

Also on the bill at the Tivoli on Friday night are Neon Waltz, who were favourites when they performed at True North in 2017 and return off the back of a huge UK tour in 2018, and supporting Noel Gallagher at an open air gig in Inverness earlier this month.

Glasgow-based singer-songwriter Martha Ffion completes the Friday night Tivoli line-up.

Festival-goers can rock the night away with three late night gigs at the Lemon Tree featuring American singer-songwriter BC Camplight, with special guests The Ninth Wave along with a DJ set from Vic Galloway (Friday, September 20), Self Esteem and Free Love with All Night Passion DJs (Saturday, September 21) before electro afro-funk band Ibibio Sound Machine bring the perfect party atmosphere to close the festival in style on Sunday night.

In addition, there will be three special informal performances in the new Big Sky Studio at the Music Hall.

Starting on Friday with a performance by the very best of emerging local talent from Aberdeen Performing Arts’ Project Band programme,  Saturday and Sunday will feature two performances selected by that evening’s main stage artists.

On Saturday, The Twilight Sad has picked Glasgow singer-songwriter Michael Timmons and on Sunday Vic Galloway has chosen indie rock outfit Savage Mansion. The early evening performances are free with the purchase of a ticket for any other True North event.

Further details of the True North Fringe and a special programme of family and children’s events will be announced in the coming weeks, including the hugely popular ‘My First Gig’.

Tickets for all shows on sale now. 

Festival passes are also available at a cost of £30 for a day pass (Friday, Saturday, Sunday), or £95 for the whole weekend which includes tickets for all the concerts mentioned above.

For tickets or further information visit www.aberdeenperformingarts.com, phone (01224) 641122 or visit the box office at the Music Hall, His Majesty’s Theatre or the Lemon Tree.

https://shamebanduk.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/Rascalton/
https://billryderjones.co.uk/
https://www.neonwaltz.com/music
https://marthaffion.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/BCCamplightMusic/
https://theninthwave.online/
http://thetwilightsad.com/
https://michaeltimmonsmusic.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/RLTSELFESTEEM/
https://freelovenrg.bandcamp.com/music
https://www.facebook.com/AllNightPassion/
https://ibibiosoundmachine.com/
https://www.facebook.com/thehothotsauce/

Jun 042019
 

Review and photographs by Craig Chisholm.

Idlewild frontman Roddy Woomble.

Scottish indie veterans Idlewild rounded off their UK tour in support of latest album ‘Interview Music’ with a heated and well received performance at the Music Hall on an already scorching May Day weekend.
This was, in fact, their fourth live appearance in town in recent weeks after they headlined two nights at the Brewdog AGM, held at the AECC, and performed a stripped down, intimate – and slightly hungover after a few Brewdog beers – acoustic set at HMV.

Those truncated performances, whilst entertaining, were merely a precursor to the main event of a full set in front of a partisan and adoring crowd.

The set list encompassed a wide range of material stretching back over two decades to their earlier, rawer work to the more refined and mature songs from their latest album.

Five songs off the new album are given an airing tonight – ‘Dream Variations’, ‘I Almost Didn’t Notice’, ‘Same Things Twice’, ‘There’s a Place for Everything’ and the title track itself.

Well known songs and singles are reeled off during the show prompting singalongs – ‘American English’, ‘Little Discourage’, ‘Roseability’ – each one a highlight from the band’s over two-decade career.

On stage, guitarist Rod Jones is the visual focal point – careering and spinning round the stage, guitar swung around with casual abandon. He’s a whirlwind of noise and skill, painting the songs with melody and bite. Singer Roddy Woomble, by contrast, is a more reserved and understated figure. His lyrics and melodies are given his full attention and during the musical interludes is more likely to wander to the side of the stage rather than engage in the drama or histrionics seen in more attention seeking frontmen.

As well as their own songs the band play a poignant and touching tribute to late Frightened Rabbit frontman Scott Hutchison with a touching cover of ‘Heads Roll Off’ that the crowd appreciate and understand.

Opening the nights proceedings are local heroes The Xcerts.

Although born and bred in Aberdeen, the band have been based in Brighton for several years now.

They’ve mellowed their rock sound over the years in favour of their current, polished, arena-rock sound which is more palatable to the ears and would appeal to a wide range of listeners.

Their stage craft is confident and natural, and they look at home on the large stage.

Looking genuinely happy to be performing in front of many of their friends, family and fans – both casual and dedicated – their set is a triumph for them.

The Xcerts will only go from strength to strength and its only a matter of time before we see them headline this historic venue themselves.

Idlewild Set ist.
Dream Variations
Roseability
You Held the World in Your Arms
(I Am) What I Am Not
Interview Music
Little Discourage
There’s a Place for Everything
A Ghost in the Arcade
Live in a Hiding Place
Love Steals Us From Loneliness
Same Things Twice
I Almost Didn’t Notice
American English
Make Another World
El Capitan
When I Argue I See Shapes
Encore:
Head Rolls Off (Frightened Rabbit cover)
Everyone Says You’re So Fragile
A Film for the Future
A Modern Way of Letting Go
In Remote Part / Scottish Fiction

Jun 172016
 

By Duncan Harley

Music Hall frontage pre-hibernation 2016 - Duncan HarleyWe all have our story to tell about Aberdeen Music Hall. Rocket-Man Elton John can still remember playing his first ever Aberdeen gig at the venue in far off 1972 and many Aberdonians can still recall their shock introduction to Glam Rock a year later when Bowie plus legendary guitarist Mick Ronson brought Spiders from Mars to the Music Hall stage.

Elton and Bowie were in good company since the historic venue has hosted performances from many of the good and the great over the past 194 years.

Built to a design by Archibald Simpson the building opened in 1822 and over the decades performers as diverse as Charles Dickens, John Anderson the Great Wizard of the North plus the comedy duo Pinky and Perky have trodden the boards to entertain and amaze Aberdeen audiences. Politicians Tony Benn, Winston Churchill, and Lloyd George put in appearances and throughout its history, the building has played host to everything from concerts and bazaars to theatre and sporting events.

As the A Listed venue begins a £7m restoration and re-generation uplift, Aberdeen Performing Arts recently hosted a series of “Lights Oot!” events showcasing the diversity of the venue.

March 31st saw a first performance of APA Associate Artist’s Aidan O’Rourke and Jason Singh’s experimental sound work “Connect:ed” (sic). Created through the Connect Project and a year in the making, the work represents the culmination of a process involving musicians and vocalists from all walks of life and genres within the City and Shire.

The next night the Music Hall hosted “Your Hall Your Story”. Following an introductory speech from Aberdeen Provost George Adams the evening focused on the recollections and reminiscences of the users of the venue.

Music Hall courtesy Alford Transport Museum and Toni ToddDirected by Douglas Irvine with Artistic Production by Lesley Anne Rose, compere Robert Lovie and actor Cameron Mowat led the audience of around 600 on a journey through the sometimes turbulent but always entertaining history of Aberdeen’s favourite concert venue using both live and recorded recollections told first hand by those who were actually there.

The stories came fast and furious throughout the evening. Roberta Duncan told how her father rose to international fame following a world record roller-skating endurance marathon in the main hall.His record making 61 hours performance seemingly stands to this day.

Mary Smith remembered meeting Sir John Barbirolli at a Hallé Orchestra performance, Sandy Hood recalled hearing Mahler and local councillor, former European and Commonwealth lightweight wrestler, Len Ironside told how wrestlers had a particular dislike of the Music Hall wrestling ring.

“It was up on stage” he said “which meant that you felt every bump and had every chance of being thrown out of the ring and down the ten feet to the floor. When this happened, the audience would simply lift you up and throw you back in.”

On one occasion, as this was going on, a voice rang out:

“Is there any word yet oh ma new hoose councillor?”

The final “Lights Oot!” night featured the first public performance of Aidan O’Rourke and Jason Singh’s musical piece “Hibernation”.

Played as a finale at “Hootenanny”, an evening hosted by the Scottish Ceilidh All Stars, the new work has become the final musical piece performed within the historic venue prior to the two year closure.

During renovation APA will be “Stepping Out” in and around Aberdeen with a programme of events inspired by the Music Hall stories.

When doors reopen in spring 2018 the venue will feature an upgraded and restored auditorium, a new 100 seat performance space plus a new box office, café and bar.

Text and images © Duncan Harley and Grampian Transport Museum, Image design – Toni Todd. First published in the May 2016 Leopard Magazine’

  • Comments enabled – see comments box below. Note, all comments will be moderated.
Mar 112016
 

Thursday March 3 2016 saw the long awaited return of The Cult to an Aberdeen stage, this time at the Music Hall. Review and photographs by Craig Chisholm.

The Cult - Music Hall - 3-3-16 (4)

Frontman Ian Astbury, dressed all in black, cut an engaging figure centre stage

The title of The Cult’s recent album, Hidden City, seems quite appropriate as Aberdeen has been a city hidden from the band’s touring schedule for nearly 30 years. It’s actually been so long since they last played here that the halls they headlined in the mid ‘80s, both Ritzy’s and The Capitol Theatre, are now long gone as live venues – renamed and re-appropriated as clubs or, in the case of The Capitol, offices.

However, the old haunts may be gone but the old crowd still remain with 1,500 of them packing out a sold out The Music Hall on a cold Thursday night to welcome back the band to the Granite City.

The Cult - Music Hall - 3-3-16 (8)Kicking off with the opening track from Hidden City, the jumpy swinging rhythm of Dark Energy, the five piece got the crowd instantly on their feet with a quick follow up of classic cuts Rain and Wild Flower.

For the next 90 mins the set spanned across the years from tracks from the 1984 album Dreamtime (Horse Nation, Spiritwalker) to latest single G.O.A.T (aka Greatest of All Time).
.

The Cult - Music Hall - 3-3-16 (1)However, it was the tracks from the band’s biggest selling albums Love, Electric and Sonic Temple that got the biggest cheers – from Lil’ Devil to She Sells Sanctuary to Sweet Soul Sister and Fire Woman it was a reminder of how much great singles the band have released over the years.
Tracks from the recent Hidden City – arguably the bands finest album in over two decades and a fine return to form – may not have been so well known to the crowd but all were received with rapturous applause.

The Cult - Music Hall - 3-3-16 (5)Frontman Ian Astbury, dressed all in black and hidden behind shades for the first new numbers, cut an engaging figure centre stage.

Looking half of his 53 years he never let up from beginning to end, immersing himself in each song and looking every inch the rock god, part Jim Morrison, part shaman. Between songs he engaged the crowd with his banter, his opinions and reminders of his Scottish heritage – even going as far as introducing final song Love Removal Machine as “Love Removal Macbeth”.

To his left, guitarist Billy Duffy cranked out the riffs behind his signature Gretsch guitars.

Holding the guitar near vertical at times he created a sound that resonated through the Music Hall from front to rear and quite possibly rattled a few drinks on bars at the far end of Union Street such was his volume and power.

The Cult - Music Hall - 3-3-16 (7)Fellow Mancunians Johnny Marr and John Squire may get the plaudits for their work with The Smiths and Stone Roses respectively but Duffy is surely one of Manchester’s great guitarists with a body of work and personal history second to none.

Both Duffy and Astbury thanked the crowd unreservedly at the end for selling out the venue and they must have been left wondering why they had not been this far North for the last three decades.

One can only hope that they don’t leave it another thirty years before returning to Aberdeen.

On this showing, if they did then you are left with no doubt they could still pull in the audience and give a similar energetic performance to the one seen tonight.

Oct 112013
 

By Steve Cameron.
GBHall1

The parish of Glenbuchat lies north west from the River Don, between Glenkindie and Strathdon. In the 19th century its population peaked at around 570 people who had ‘a strong sense of identity and fostered a powerful social spirit’.

Community activities included an annual highland games and picnic, St Peters Fair, a Literary Society, a Mutual Improvement Society, and Glenbucket Male and Female Friendly Society providing support for members falling on hard times.

At some point in the last 200 years the name started to appear in records as Glenbuchat. The Glen was proud of its tradition of ballads and violin and pipe music.

Towards the end of the 19th century, by which time the parish population had fallen to around 400, the people of the glen felt a need for a building in which to hold meetings and social events. Raising funds was not easy, but eventually the hall was built by public subscription, with donations received from the Laird, who also donated the land, and the shooting tenant.

The opening bazaar took place in September 1899. From that time until the First World War the hall was used regularly for a range of educational, training and social activities and events.

During and following the war, activities and fundraising dropped dramatically, and the building showed signs of wear and tear. Thanks to donations from the Women’s Rural Institute the hall was repaired and refurbished in 1924. It is likely that activities continued as before, but no record survives from this period.

Glenbuchat2At the end of the Second World War fresh efforts were made to put the hall back into use and to carry out necessary works. However, it took nine years to raise sufficient funds to add lavatories to the building. From 1946 to 1962 there were regular activities, with many fundraisers for various good causes.

The latter part of the 20th century saw the population dwindle to fewer than 100, and activities in the hall diminish as social change saw less demand for the activities on offer.

By the end of the century, the building once again looked shabby.

Fortunately, a small group continued managing the hall and the Millenium ‘stirred old feelings of public responsibility for the hall …for community activity’

In 2005, the Glenbuchat Hall Community Association was formed to support the hall and activities.  The Objects of the Association were to

  • secure the establishment, maintenance and management of the Hall.
  • promote and maintain the traditions and culture of the Glen.
  • benefit the inhabitants of Glenbuchat and surrounding district.
  • associate with inhabitants, local authorities and voluntary organisations in a common effort to advance education and leisure with the purpose of improving the lives of the said inhabitants.
  • act as a focal point for environmental matters concerning the Glen

In 2007, around thirty residents gathered for two working weekends to undertake refurbishment and temporary repairs. In the last decade, the programme of social events throughout the year has grown, with current annual footfall estimated as more than 2500.

In 2010, the Association undertook a public consultation, which identified an aspiration to sustain the hall for future use, including adult education, a focus on environmental issues, wider access to the surrounding environment, increased arts and recreation facilities, development of a heritage group, and increased availability of the hall to other organisations. From this the Glenbuchat Hall Community Hub project developed.

HallCraigton1Thanks to considerable local fundraising, and generous grants from a number of bodies, the Association has installed air-to-air heat exchanger heating and has refurbished the hall with new toilets, disabled access and a kitchen.

The Association is developing an outbuilding as an additional smaller meeting room or entertainment space. When completed, it will be made available to selected organisations as a base for accessing the locality.

In 2013, the Association has hosted a community hall re-opening party, a film night and music events including the Cairngorm Ceilidh Trail where young musicians can develop and perform. There’s been a wedding reception, a private party, and the hall has acted as a major venue for North East Open Studios (NEOS) arts fortnight. It’s also the focal point of the community for Hogmanay celebrations and has been used for Burns suppers in the past. A Sound Festival collaborative project Framed Against the Sky used the hall as one of its venues.

Currently the Association has appointed installation artist Gill Russell as artist-in-residence for three months. We have had some fantastic musicians on our stage including Catford, As The Crow Flies and recently Son Al Son, an exciting collaboration between Cuban and Scottish musicians making fantastic salsa music.

Current plans include developing the programme of music events, including touring traditional music acts and contemporary music. Plans are afoot for a festival to celebrate the fiddle music of Alexander Walker 150 years after its original publication.

Future visiting acts will include The Locust Honey String Band on 4 Nov and an exciting trio comprising  Leah Abramson, Rayna Gelert and, from Petunia and the Vipers, Patrick Metzger, on 17 March.

Glenbuchat1Fresh from outstanding reviews at last year’s Celtic Connections The Dardanelles will be appearing on 23 April.On 16 May we have one of the finest American roots music acts around with Cahalen Morrison & Eli West, reviewed twice previously in Aberdeen Voice.

Although building works ruled out a spring fair this year, this very popular event will no doubt return in 2014.  The Heritage Society is formed and is planning a range of activities, and the Association hopes to follow the current artist in residence programme with further residencies.

All of this demonstrates how we are attempting to reach out to the wider community.

Community halls throughout the country face difficult times but in rural locations they are a precious resource. In Glenbuchat we are fortunate to have the hall as a focal point for community activity and  hope we can continue to engage both the local and wider community. That ‘strong sense of identity and powerful social spirit’ described in the opening paragraph lives on in Glenbuchat!

Associated Links:

Sep 012013
 

With his Martin Stephenson-produced album Working Man’s Dream (Pictish Pop Records) on release and its Easter Ross blue collar honesty being well-received by critics, Davy Cowan was kind enough to take time off from creativity and promo to talk to Voice’s David Innes.

Davy Cowan 168a‘Home’ sounds very questing and personal. Can you enlighten us a little?

“It’s more about a feeling or a kind of longing for something familiar rather than an actual place. My father passed away two years ago and  it made me think a lot about life in general, about the meaning of life, our reason for being here and what purpose we have as people. I think it’s about an ongoing search, about finding your roots and spiritual identity.”

So, is ‘Town That I Love’ about Dingwall or Invergordon, or is it one of these ‘everyman’ songs about returning home?

“I suppose this song was inspired by all the different and colourful characters that seem to exist in every town. It looks at all the day-to-day things that go on – doing the shopping, avoiding the traffic warden and dodging the gossip from the local fishwives. So yes, it’s about where I come from and live, but I suppose it’s relevant to most people’s home town. It’s much the same everywhere, I imagine.”

The Yobs was your first band. Very punk! Do those no-frills influences and that youthful energy still find their way into your songs?

“I like to think so. I still feel as passionate today when I find a hook, a lyric or a riff on the guitar as I did the first time I saw Stiff Little Fingers play at the Ice Rink in Inverness back in the early 80’s.

“It’s the whole spirit that punk rock created that made it so exciting, I think it was a natural progression from artists way before that, like Willie Nelson, Neil  Young, Bob Marley, Dylan and Bowie. You can hear it in their music – they all had that same energy and drive. Punk was the catalyst that made everyone feel they could be part of something special, whether or not you could play an instrument.”

Your Celtic band Coinneach seems to have been a big part of your life. What are your favourite memories from touring with them?

Davy Cowan 168b“The old Ford Transit mini bus which we converted into our own little tour bus….catching the overnight ferry from Newcastle to Holland.

“We toured all over Holland, Germany, France and Belgium, had some amazing experiences, we saw some beautiful places and met all kinds of weird and wonderful people, forging some great friendships and alliances with people, most of which are still ongoing today. 

“We really did have some magical mystery tours in those days!

“Our last gig back in 2004, at the Hogmanay party in Union Street Aberdeen with Hue & Cry and Deacon Blue, playing to around 4000 revellers is something I’ll never forget. It was a great way to bring that whole band chapter of our lives to a momentous conclusion.”

Tell me about working with Martin Stephenson – what did he get out of you as a producer that you might not have expected from yourself?

“Martin has this uncanny knack of getting the best out of you anyway. He seems to feed directly into the creative stream and encourages the artistic side to emerge from a song. He put me through my paces vocally. I think that if you’re used to playing in loud environments over the years you tend to shout over the top of the noise to have your voice heard.

“Martin helped me find my true voice from deeper within, almost like re-learning my whole singing technique. I really think I would have struggled to find that if it wasn’t for Mr Stephenson.”

When can the NE public expect to see you play live here?

“It’s been a while since I played the NE. I’m thinking about doing a series of busking tours around major UK cities to promote Working Man’s Dream. My idea is to busk outside major venues in each city, for example The Royal Albert Hall in London, The Royal Concert Hall,  Glasgow and of course The Music Hall Aberdeen! The idea is to take the music to the people on the street.

“I’ll be outside the Music Hall in Aberdeen at 3pm this Tuesday (3 September) for a trial run!”

You have the choice of all the leading musicians, alive or not, to back you for a one-off gig – who will be in the Davy Cowan Fantasy Big Band?

“Oh now, that’s a difficult one.

“OK, this might sound a bit disjointed but here goes.

“Keith Moon on drums, Lee Rocker from The Stray Cats on upright bass, Jools on piano, Hank Williams  and Emmylou Harris on backing vocals, Martin Stephenson on the washboard, Joe Strummer on rhythm guitar, Nigel Kennedy on fiddle and Gerry Jablonski on lead guitar. Oh, and not to forget Old Lizzie from The Gellions in Inverness on percussion. How does that sound?

“But I suppose for just now I’ll just keep plugging away on my solo mission and as long as I can keep writing and keep enjoying the music, I can’t think of any better way of spending the rest my working life. Onwards and upwards!”

Thanks to Davy for his input and to Donna and Mr Martin G Stephenson himself for their assistance.

Accompanying the promo copy of Working Man’s Dream was a most unusual and welcome personal letter from the head Daintee himself, outlining his vision for his Barbaraville label/collective in which he reveals, that he’s created the label ‘…to try to help support artists who I feel should be heard beyond the village’. Music to these ears. Go buddy go!

The Boat To Bolivia tour gig at The Venue in 1986 will live long in the memory of anyone who was there. Respect, Martin.

We have a review copy of Working Man’s Dream and a review is imminent.

If you’re in the city centre on Tuesday afternoon, pop along to hear Davy and to offer him encouragement.

www.davycowan.com
www.daintees.co.uk/barbaraville

  • Comments enabled – see comments box below. Note, all comments will be moderated.
Aug 162012
 

As another demolition threat looms over Union Street’s once great Capitol, new Aberdeen Voice writer Murray Henderson looks at the fortunes of Aberdeen’s slumbering star of the silver screen.

“Aberdeen’s most prestigious cinema.  Its facade is of classical proportion. In the centre, soaring above the entrance is a simple pediment, which originally carried the name “Capitol” in neon letters. Inside, grand staircases swept up to the lofty circle and stalls foyers.  In the auditorium was the great Compton Organ, whilst Holophane lighting glowed seductively.  The Capitol is unique, an outstanding building which deserves a full restoration.”1

– The Theatres Trust.

The Capitol Cinema once captivated Aberdonians with the latest movies and an Art-Deco interior direct from a Hollywood set.

It is one of the few remaining ‘super cinemas’ from the pre-war boom, akin to the Brixton Academy or the Edinburgh Playhouse.

Though the last film was shown in the 1960s, the Capitol continued to host rock concerts2 as late as 1998.

A hammer blow to the Capitol came in 2002 with the arrival of Chicago Rock/Jumping Jacks and their proposal for two separate nightclubs.  

Despite public objection, Historic Scotland backed the plans and the council voted in their favour,3,4 enabling sweeping modifications to be made to the building.

The auditorium was split horizontally in two and an all new identity, which destroyed much of the original character, was imposed.  The Theatres Trust condemned the alterations as “brutal” and “a disgraceful failure of the historic building control system,” comparable only to one other in the UK, the Philharmonic Hall in Cardiff.5

In 2009, the Chicago Rock/Jumping Jacks owners entered receivership and the clubs were closed.  The credit crunch, the smoking ban and cheap supermarket alcohol were cited as reasons for their demise.2  In 2010 another planning application was submitted for full demolition of the Capitol’s auditorium and an eight storey hotel and office development being built in its place.  The plan was granted approval though never implemented.

As details emerge about the new proposals, the future of the Capitol is once again in the hands of developers and a city council which believes there is neither the money nor the public demand for its restoration.2

According to the British Film Institute (BFI), this story is common across the UK.  Traditional cinemas have been unable to compete with the multiplexes and their closures have contributed to the decline of many city centres.  The BFI attributes this to the multiplex’s larger screen size, improved sound quality, better choice of films and greater all-round convenience.

But typically, their design is uniform and unadventurous, with many resembling industrial warehouses.  Inside, multiplex auditoria are bland, blank voids, utilising the ‘black box’ concept in which the viewer has the least possible distraction from the screen.6

Despite the dominance of multiplexes, there are pockets of resistance.  The old mining town of Bo’ness had, in the dilapidated ‘Hippodrome’, Scotland’s first purpose-built cinema.  After languishing in a state of neglect for 30 years, the cinema was recently restored in spectacular style and this year proudly celebrated its centenary.

According to the Theatres Trust, community stewardship is often a theatre’s best chance of salvation.  However, this takes hard work, dedication, and significant funding, which can come from grants or philanthropic sources.  If the theatre is saved, the hard work continues in maintaining a programme of events and ensuring it is financially viable.7

This model is driving another success story in Glasgow in the Britannia Panopticon, the oldest surviving Music Hall in Britain, which at one time also functioned as a cinema.  With members of the public as curators, a charitable trust has been set up with the goal of full restoration.  Regular shows have resumed and the importance of the building is now being realised by the wider public.8

These examples show that a niche does exist for cinemas like the Capitol. Their distinctive architecture gives a true sense of theatre befitting the drama on screen which the drab, corporate, multiplex cannot rival.  Their survival depends not only on the extent of historical alterations made to them but, perhaps more importantly, on how much they are valued by the public and city councils, as part of our heritage.

It is clear that in its current situation, the Capitol Cinema has a considerable mountain to climb if it is to join the Hippodrome, or the Britannia.  But cinema’s greatest stars do have the habit of making the most unlikely comebacks.  In the Capitol’s case, the show is not over until the curtain comes down.

References        

  1. Theatres Trust “Guide to British Theatres 1750-1950”
  2. Aberdeen Council Planning Decision Notice for Application, Ref: P101757
  3. Aberdeen City Planning Committee Minutes 18th April, 2002.
  4. Aberdeen City Council Meeting Minutes Town House, 1st May, 2002.
  5.  www.theatrestrust.org.uk
  6. British Film Institute Website
  7. email correspondence with The Theatres Trust.
  8. email correspondence with the Britannia Panoptican Music Hall.
  • Comments enabled – see comments box below. Note, all comments will be moderated.