Nov 082016

Aberdeen Voice’s Fred Wilkinson and Suzanne Kelly spend a night at the Theatre; Krakatoa erupted (glad to get that bad pun out of the way) with possibly its most high voltage show and hyper audience ever. Photographed beautifully by Dod Morrison.

theatre-of-hate-1-dod-morrisonFeel sorry for yourself if you didn’t get into Theatre of Hate’s sold-out show if you love music, because it was one of those nights that will go down as legendary in Aberdeen’s live music history.
Theatre of Hate returned to The Granite City after a 30-something year absence touring new album, Kinshi, and we all went mad for it.

Theatre of Hate is Kirk Brandon (lead vocals, guitar, otherworldly stage moves); Adrian Portas (guitars; tonight, looming on a platform over the others on stage); Stan Stammers (bass guitarist whose playing flows like fine wine); John Lennard (saxophone – the most expressive you’d hope to hear) and percussionist Chris Bellcafe giving it his all.

The band formed in the early 80s, eventually morphing into Spear of Destiny.  In 2014 they appeared for the first time in decades with a new EP of four diverse and powerful tracks which eventually led to…

The new album, Kinshi

Kinshi is Japanese for prohibited. The album artwork shows samurai warriors whose world and way of life was soon to be outlawed.  While the samurai ways passed into legend, their warrior tradition persists – read into that what you will. The four songs from the EP included ‘Venice’ – a haunting/haunted ballroom love/break-up waltz.

The pre-apocalypse, politically volatile ‘Day of the Dog’s’ lyrics ask questions of East and West in terms of dogma and suffering:

“Breaking point / The Gateway to the West / Unhinged, broken / Flood makes the journey / Meanwhile warmongers / 7th century / Thirst for blood / All in the name of” (with ‘God’ being the unspoken name I conclude).


It makes me question our volatile world situation (God – if you’re reading feel free to weigh in).

It also makes me wonder why, when there is so much that needs to be said today, mainstream music shies away from reality and goes with safe, bankable lyrics and anodyne acts, or pointlessly salacious and pointlessly high-budget tracks (‘Bitch better have my money’ – thank you Rihanna). But I digress.

My favourite song from the EP and the album is ‘Slave’ – hypnotic rhythm leads to a great crescendo of guitar/bass/drum/sax with Brandon’s vocals riding the curl of this rich wave of sound.

Theatre of Hate have this amazing sax and guitar layering over bass/drum no outfit I know can approach.  The song  is a surprisingly accurate insight into the pressures on women to conform to the media’s Barbie-doll beauty ideal – physically impossible of course. ToH’s ‘Slave’ offers further keen observations on the thoughts an ageing starlet or model might have; am astonished by these insights into women’s issues.

Slave’s lyrics start off suggesting a portrait of a self-absorbed ageing beauty

“She woke this morning / put on slave paint / living the life of glamour / the Hollywood land ideal… Self love and pity from a bottle / the media play the woman game.”

Then Brandon’s lyrics widen out to perhaps the moral of the song (well, for me anyway), as he invokes the famous Rubaiyat of  Omar Kayyam:

“The moving finger writes; and, having writ, moves on: nor all thy piety nor wit shall lure it back to cancel half a line, nor all thy tears wash out a word of it.” 

Brandon writes:

“No one can stop the clock that ticks / Or halt the calendar page / Fear itself, has made her slave / She’s the fashion, of her age – SLAVE.”

Ten points for including a beautifully illustrated booklet with lyrics with this album, and another ten points for Theatre of Hate for showing such understanding of the pressures the media and society put on women, particularly physically beautiful women to remain beautiful while time makes the feat impossible – it makes some of them slaves to vanity.  ‘Slave’ is hypnotic; the way it builds is gorgeous – the album version is beautifully worked – and I can’t stop listening to it.

Back to the rest of the album. ‘Mr Mendacity’ is illustrated with an image of everyone’s least-favourite POTUS candidate, Mr Drumpf.

This timely piece of protest music is going down very well with anti-Trump factions (I wish it were on Youtube or somewhere I could share it more – hint hint) and reminds us what a good protest song can and should do.

“He’s got an ego, the size of his house / He’s got the money and he’s got a mouth / Flannels everyone he’s talking so loud / Suitably self impressed, working his muppet crowd” – and there in a few lines is a summary of a man no one should be taken in by.

There is a dub version of the album as well; I can’t wait to hear it. The project was crowdfunded, and contributors chose from a range of rewards and enjoyed periodic updates and tracks. Too late to be a crowd funder, but it’s not too late to order Kinshi, and from the look of how they were flying off the merchandise stall last night, looks like some of you are way ahead of me on the point.

theatre-of-hate-3-dod-morrisonThe Krakatoa Show

There is a faithful core of people in Aberdeen who follow Spear of Destiny and Theatre of Hate; this first appearance in Aberdeen (last was apparently 30 years ago in Fusion) was highly anticipated, and there was an energy and enthusiasm in the crowded bar that night before the show started.
‘Black Irony’ was the first song of this set which balanced old and iconic ToH pieces perfectly.

The set was long and must have been gruelling, not least for Brandon whose operatic range and preternatural ability to sustain notes is well known – but it also all seemed to end far too soon. Twenty songs – or was it twenty-two? – filled the venue, and the crowd were ecstatic.

‘Black Irony’ is a dark, sinister indictment of western values :

“I believe in Micky Mouse, Snow White and the 7 dwarves / Snowden & Assange / I believe in Dr Strange”

Brandon menacingly intones; the sax is sultry, more than a bit sordid. Splendid work, and the crowd is responding to the new material, with many people already aware of the lyrics.

Towards the start of the set are ‘Americanos’ and ‘The Hop’ – clearly favourite songs of many people here. After ‘Ukraine Girl’ from the new album with its 1960s feel beat, things are calmed down with another haunting number this time classic ‘Love is as Ghost’. Loss, love, suicide, and pain in the lyrics are beautifully matched by the music, and the sax is mournful. Sticking to the dark side of romance is the classic (but angrier) Incinerator. The audience is very much there with them.

‘Conquistador’ then brings the set to ‘Mr Mendacity’ – and for a while I’m lost from my attempts to make notes on the night to just enjoying it. Floating along one moment, jolted then by ‘Legion’ and the chanting crowd, I’m enjoying the ride; we all are. Someone’s said to me at the end of ‘Legion’,

“That was a life-changing experience.” 

The next thing I know Kirk’s getting everyone to sing ‘Original Sin’ with him. The fever pitch in Krakatoa is like no other night I’ve spent there and everyone’s shouting ‘Do you Believe in the Westworld’ at the top of their lungs before the final encore, ‘Propaganda’.

theatre-of-hate-5-dod-morrisonPerhaps people think first of Kirk, Stan and Lennard – the original ToH members.

This night would not have hit the heights without Adrian Portas’ talents and Farrant’s percussion. Watching and hearing Portas is a pleasure; wish I could have seen more of Farrant behind the crowd and the guitars – but we all felt and heard his work (must be exhausting mentally as well as physically).

Verdict – virtuoso (yeah an overused word) performances from all, with every member of ToH having moments when they particularly shone as individuals, and a night of wholly original music performed with conviction and spirit of a kind we rarely enjoy. There was one passage where Stan Stammers was remarkable, but as my notes were eventually covered in beer, I can’t quite tell you which bit I’d been particularly struck by.

During one moment of Zeppelin’s film ‘The Song Remains The Same’ Plant is backstage at Madison Square Garden and comes out with an odd statement:

“This is a song that sometimes takes a building in a manner which our forefathers were very used to. Did you hear that? It’s right though, isn’t it? That feeling that’s left everybody, the cosmic energy! Everybody goes yeah! Bash!” 

I never knew what he was on about until this show.

Don’t take my word for it:

“They’ve disposed of traditional structures – chorus, middle 8. When you get it, you get it. I can’t predict what they’re going to do next. What an excellent night.” – Fred Wilkinson (Toxik Ephex, Aberdeen Voice editor, said while clutching his copy of Kinshi. Fred also wanted to mention how spot on he found the sound engineer’s work tonight)

“It was triumphant return to Aberdeen for TOH after 34 years and good to see the Aberdeen people come out and support a local venue that is keeping music alive” – Dod Morrison, photographer

“Aberdeen was brilliant”Jayne Pirie

On A personal note:

I wish I’d made it to more of these dates; it’s a genuine regret as I’ve read such glowing reports about the shows. Fred Wilkinson wasn’t going to stay at first (he was there for a meeting earlier in the evening, but he was persuaded, and wound up very happy he remained, although when I pointed out the Trump artwork in the Kinshi lyrics, he had a funny turn.

Admission – I was a miserable, useless failed bass student; no matter how hard I practiced scales and lines, whatever I played sounded mechanical and stilted. So it was absolute thrill listening to Stan Stammers make such fluid, melodious, emotive music.

Another admission – I usually don’t like saxophone in rock such as Springsteen – Clements was a huge talent I admit – but there was always something so wholesome, American, clean-cut about most sax in rock that it just left me cold. Lennard’s playing is as far removed from the kind of sax I find cloying as is possible to get, and I loved it.  Lastly I hope Hen is recovering well, and Craig Adams – thanks for yet another great night.

Let’s not leave it so long next time please. Encore.

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Oct 152016

Voice’s Old Susannah takes a look over recent events in the ‘Deen and beyond. By Suzanne Kelly.

DictionaryGreetings belatedly; sorry for the late-running of this service; I’ve been busy. For one thing – Result! TV Smith played Krakatoa on 8 October with Fred Wilkinson opening. Fred, or ‘Wilkinson’ as beloved LibDem Aileen HoMalone refers to him, played a lovely song about fashion called The Ghosts of Cable Street. I’m not really sure what it was about, but I think it had to do cable-knit jumpers and something about black shirts not being very popular at one time.

Fashions do have a way of coming around again, and I think there are more than a few blackshirt-lovers out there right now.

Smith played some old-fashioned, quaint ‘protest music’ – although heaven knows, we really have nothing to protest about, except maybe all those foreigners Amber Herd wanted named and shamed for taking British Jobs.

I wonder why she changed her mind? Could there be any link between the pound plunging to a new 31 year low, Brexit, and Amber’s anti-foreigner stance? I doubt it.

I am guilty of not being born in the UK. I am taking the unpaid job of some poor satirical British columnist who otherwise could be labouring for free. Yes, naming and shaming the companies that hire people from other countries seemed like the way forward. But I digress. Smith sang about modern poverty (no doubt caused by foreigners), state surveillance, and other such lefty concerns. Just as well we’ve nothing to protest about here in the Deen.

I understand Torry residents are planning a parade to celebrate all the jobs creation coming our way. We’re getting an incinerator – sorry – waste to energy plant! Result!

We’re going to get rid of the under-used Bay of Nigg so that cruise ships filled with rich visitors can stop by for a bet at Ladbroke’s and some Spar shopping. Result! Of course we’ll have to make a few sacrifices for creating these jobs.

A few protected wildlife species in the Bay, clean air (which we enjoy so greatly now thanks to the sewerage plant) and the wishes of local people – many of whom are foreign! – should not stand in the way of making the Harbour Board richer or getting a good old-fashioned British firm busy burning rubbish next to the school in Tullos. While the house prices here will plummet, a clear message is sent: Scotland is Open For Business.

We are open to taking American fracked gas; a great tanker sailed to Scotland filled with fracked gas, while some Americans in Pennsylvania begged Scotland not to take it.

If it will make us money, at least the considerable pollution will be happening far away – foreigners do have their uses. (The energy efficiency of creating fuel in the US leaving pollution in its wake and shipping resultant gas to Scotland is a little hard for me to understand, especially with gas here having been at considerably low prices for years. Still, if there’s money to be made, we can’t be seen to be closed can we?)

We’re also open for business at Marischal Square, where in keeping with the look of the city, Granite will be the main cladding material. That The Granite City is importing granite from China, where there are a few equal pay and workers’ rights issues is not an issue. We are Open For Business. The council says it’s not their business where the granite comes from – a huge comfort to the veritable slave labour that will be quarrying it.

John Forbes of Bon Accord Granite said:

“What people don’t understand is we haven’t built a major building out of north-east granite for the last 30 years, at least. It’s down to price. If I don’t supply Chinese granite, others will.” 

Thanks John for helping the project’s carbon footprint, Chinese workers’ rights, the government’s push to use UK labour forces – all while making a tidy profit. Nice one.

I get it – the position seems to be ‘if I don’t exploit unfair labour practices in China to supply material cheaply, someone else will’. Good code of ethics there then. So – foreigners = good source of labour to exploit as cheaply as possible – as long as the blighters don’t actually come to Old Blighty.

When the much-loved Marischal Square building is clad in Chinese granite, the much-loved Press & Journal is set to take a year’s free rent to grace us with its presence.

In order to figure out how this equates to being ‘Open for Business’ as opposed to, shall we say, giving the paper a bone so that it won’t unleash its investigative new hounds (if any left) onto juicy city council stories (not that there are any unless you count the cremation scandal, the Torry carve-up, Marischal Square..), Old Susannah lodged a freedom of information request.

We do know the key players at the Town House in this genius free rent scheme are the Head of Finance, Head of Land and Property Assets, Asset Management Manager. The city refuses to comment on these ‘commercial negotiations’ because:

“Release of the information at this stage would influence the negotiating position of parties wishing to occupy space in the development, to the obvious detriment of the Council’s commercial interests.

“Furthermore, disclosure of the requested information at this stage is likely to weaken ACC’s position in a competitive environment by revealing sensitive information of potential usefulness to competitors. ACC must maintain good working relationships with reputable companies to enable it to obtain value for money and so releasing commercially sensitive information could potentially damage ACC’s reputation with such third parties, dissuading the third parties from engaging with ACC.”

“The discussions in relation to the proposals for the AJL terms have involved the advice of external property agents, the Council’s development partner and a number of Council officers.” 

So if I understand correctly, the competition would get wind of us giving a years’ rent free in a new building to the press (normally expected to investigate just this kind of eventuality in some cities anyway), and they would give a better deal, or other people would want free rent like the P&J too.

Perhaps we should pay the P&J to grace the city centre, and breathing new life into the beating heart of the civic centre in a vibrant and dynamic manner.

The phrase ‘Value for Money’ worked its way into the FOI response. Older readers might remember when the previous administration sold property owned by the taxpayer for millions of pounds less than market value, and was investigated by Audit Scotland (the report was meant to be investigated by the police – but they didn’t do anything. When I asked for an update, it was explained the paperwork could not be found, and as it was only a few million pounds’ worth of potential fraud, it wasn’t really a big deal).

We also gifted Stewart Milne lots of land, at the same time he won a few sweet contracts totalling £10 million – he’d underbid the competition – possibly a feat made a bit easier by having a nice parcel of land as a handy asset. But again – I digress. Just as well though that the taxpayer isn’t propping up a hugely biased, outmoded pseudo-newspaper.

Not that there are any juicy city council stories of course, but in light of how the city’s officers are involved in a few slightly questionable activities, I set out to take a look at the register of officers’ interests. I was to meet someone from Legal and democratic services to take a look at the register. A few hours before the meeting, the legal team from the city decided that a FOI request was required.

Now in theory FOI requests should not have to be made to see information that is held – but they were apparently fearful that there might be ‘personal data’ in the register.

This register should be parallel to the register held on all the councillor’s interests and hospitality – which you can view right now on the website. It’s almost as if the officers had more power and influence than coucillors but surely not. The FOI service complains from time to time that it has too many requests to handle (which might be why it is late with a huge portion of responses).

If the other departments had this ‘transparency’ we’ve heard so much about, the FOI team wouldn’t have to suffer so greatly doing its job.

Democratic services? Transparency? Freedom of Information? Clearly not as important as being open for business. More on this soon.

While waiting for any of this information to ever get to me, liquid refreshment at BrewDog helps sustain me and pass the time. Old Dog (as I now call the Gallowgate bar, the first ever BrewDog bar) has been doing some wildly popular craft courses and a once-monthly fun event, Drink and Draw.

I have learned so very much from BrewDog. Did you know that it’s Robert Plant’s son Logan is behind the remarkable Beavertown Brewery? I hadn’t any idea. One of my favourite non-BD libations is Beavertown’s flavour packed Gamma Ray (American Pale Ale). And yes, I’m one of the 10,000 BrewDog shareholders, and still proud of it.

Finally, Anthony Baxter is making another film about ladies’ man Trump, although I can’t think of any recent news developments these past 12 months that would warrant any such documentary. However, the details are here for those who would like to chip in. Expected Aberdeen release 3 November at the Belmont. (And by way of disclosure, there is every chance I’ll be in it).

At this rate there won’t be time for definitions, so with no further hesitation, here are some career-related definitions for the wonderful people who bring so much to Aberdeen.

Spokeswoman: (Modern English noun) a female who undertakes public relations duties.

Sarah Malone has been enjoying a Trump salary these many years; this and husband Damian’s salary will no doubt be helping the Jimmy Choo purchase fund.

In order to get a paid gig dealing with the media as a spokeswoman for a multinational property developer, aspiring spokespersons would have to have style, flair, the ability to think quickly, analyse information and respond swiftly with tact and intelligence. This no doubt is why I toil for free. As a recent example illustrating the calibre of response such a professional spokeswoman would be expected to come up with, I offer the following recently issued by Sarah Malone-Bates, aka from now as Sarah Baloney:

“We have not seen the so-called film and have no interest in it.

“Anthony Baxter is not a credible journalist or filmmaker. He has no interest in the facts or the people of north east Scotland.

“He has propagated lies and nonsense about the company for years in an attempt to make a name for himself off the back of Trump.

“We operate a highly acclaimed, five-star golf resort and enjoy a great relationship with the local community and all of our neighbours with the exception of a few who have fought the project since its inception.”

Old Susannah can’t – however hard I try – write like this. For instance, if I had to use the compound-adjective ‘so-called’, I might have said ‘so-called journalist’. That would have opened up a debate on whether or not award-winning, acclaimed journalist Baxter is credible or not. Obviously we trust a Trump spokesperson’s word for what is and isn’t credible. However, ‘so-called film’ opens up the debate as to whether or not the film is a … film. I think even I could win that battle of wits with Sarah.

She is calling Baxter a liar – a daring PR move which of course could have legal consequences should Baxter want to sue Trump. I hope she’ll share the specific list of these lies with us; I promise I’ll ask for it.

As to that ‘great relationship with the local community’ – well, obviously that’s as true as anything else this professional, well-paid spokesperson said. Just because protestors raise Mexican flags, 580,000 people sign a petition against her boss coming here, the local university rescinded his honorary degree and he’s no longer a global Scot is no reason to think Mr Drumpf is in any way unpopular. And no doubt the relationship with this community is unshakeable…

Star: (modern English term) someone of celebrity status, admired and well-known.

Donald Trump is a star. How do I know? He said so in a conversation about the perks of stardom.

To attain star status, having superior genes is important; modestly Drumpf admits what we already know – that he has superior genes. Somewhere, in some obscure history lesson, I almost remember some other political figure being interested in genetic superiority. Perhaps it’s fashionable to talk about this again?

Perks of stardom include ‘just start kissing’ beautiful women ‘doing anything (to women)’ and ‘grabbing them by the pussy’. Oh those lucky, beautiful young women. Something in the nature of 1 in 5 American women can expect to be sexually assaulted in their lifetime.

And with that, I find the last satirical inclinations leaving me, and so I will sign off. Let’s hope nothing will dent that community appreciation Drumpf enjoys here in our little corner of Scotland.

Next week – more on other FOI requests, a look at the rosy future of Torry – and a DIY Investigating kit

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Oct 062016

theatre_of_hate_by_nic_attwood2With thanks to Suzanne Kelly.

Legendary 1980s band Theatre of Hate will release its first album in some 30 years on 14  October.
Theatre of Hate were formed in the 1980s, but only recently reformed to tour. Original members Stan Stammers (bass) and John Leonard (saxophone) will join Brandon in the current line-up which will be at Krakatoa on 4 November.

The album ‘Kinshi’ (from the Japanese meaning roughy ‘forbidden’) is being crowd funded and offers a wide range of incentives to those who donate to the project and preorder the album which will be available on several formats including vinyl.

Details can be found here:

Vive Le Rock has awarded the album 9/10 in a full page review with a headline that reads:

“Mighty return from post-punk legends”

and goes on to conclude

“Kinshi is the sound of a band who have grown and developed, but never lost sight of what brought them together. It’s intensity and sense of purpose is relentless and it demands attention, but then Theatre of Hate was never meant to be back-ground noise and that’s why so many years on, it’s so good to have them back”

There are a whole host of Pre-Order goodies to be had when getting your hands on a copy of ‘Kinshi’, from Gold Dinner Packages to Double Vinyl versions to

Download only editions. And remember ALL Pre-Orderer’s will receive a download of ‘Kinshi’ direct into their inbox on the release day morning FRIDAY 14TH OCTOBER 2016.

We have not One but Two Pre-Order sites for you to peruse:

To Pre-Order direct from the band, go to
To Pre-Order from PledgeMusic, go to

The full ‘Kinshi’ Tour is selling well. Advance tickets can be found here:

THEATRE of HATE – ‘Kinshi’ UK Tour 2016


Wed 26th LONDON Exclusive Pledge Show
Thu 27th BRISTOL Fleece
Fri 28th BEDFORD Esquires
Sat 29th BUCKLEY Tivoli (Dark Wave Alldayer)
Sun 30th BIRMINGHAM o2 Academy


Tue 1st LEEDS Brudenell Social Club
Wed 2nd NEWCASTLE The Cluny
Thu 3rd GLASGOW King Tuts Wah Wah Hut
Fri 4th ABERDEEN Krakatoa
Sat 5th DUNFERMLINE PJ Malloys
Sun 6th MANCHESTER Academy

Tickets & Info

Those who have pre-ordered are receiving updates, videos and mp3s.