Jun 282022
 

Craig Chisholm reviews Kasabian at The Beach Ballroom, Aberdeen.

Guitarist turned singer, Serge Pizzorno, is a hyperactive and overwhelming presence.

There’s an air of anticipation – and a hint of worry – in the air tonight as Kasabian take to stage for the first time in months in a relatively low key warm up show for their upcoming tour.
There was major upheaval in the Kasabian camp during lockdown that saw lead singer Tom Meighan convicted in court on a rather unsavoury charge of assaulting his then fiancée.

But Kasabian, to their credit, acted quickly and decisively, sacking him from the band and expelling him from their inner circle.

An incident like this may have spelled the end of many a band or, worse, a public show of contrition and the usual carefully worded apology. Not Kasabian, though, who are to be credited with the strong message that separating from their singer sends out.

There’s no messing around tonight. No easing in the crowd gently. No time for reflection or soul searching.

Hitting the stage in disconcerting and overpowering strobe lights they blast into the banging ‘Club Foot’ with such energy that everywhere in a mile radius of the Beach Ballroom must have thought there was an earthquake happening.

Guitarist turned singer, Serge Pizzorno, is a hyperactive and overwhelming presence at the front of the stage.

Moving from side to side, bouncing, running and jumping like a prize fighter in the ring, your eyes are drawn to him and you’re overcome by his intensity and energy.

Any questions regarding his ability to step up to front man – from his usual role of guitarist – or doubts about his voice being able to carry the tunes, are dispelled tonight. He’s a natural frontman, a consummate showman and his voice is perfect for the songs.

Blasting through a 17 song set, the band show they are more ready for their upcoming headline dates and their support slots with Liam Gallagher at Hampden Park and Knebworth among others.

The hits, such as ‘Empire’, ‘Vlad The Impaler’ and ‘Shoot the Runner’ are all played. There’s a live debut for ‘SCRIPTVRE’ from upcoming album ‘The Alchemists Euphoria’ (Due August 5th) and plenty of crowd pleasers in between.

The sprung floor at the Beach Ballroom was tested to its limits tonight and there’ll be a few lugs still ringing the following morning from the aural assault.

Closing with ‘Fire’, the band end a triumphant show that has dispelled any doubts about their future. They’re in for the long haul and will be headlining arenas and festivals for a long time to come.

Set List:

Club Foot
Ill Ray (The King)
Underdog
You’re in Love With a Psycho
ALYGATYR
Shoot the Runner
SCRIPTVRE
Bumblebee
Stevie
Pinch Roller
Treat
Empire
Switchblade Smiles
Vlad the Impaler

Encore:

Bless This Acid House
L.S.F. (Lost Souls Forever)
Fire

Jun 232022
 

Craig Chisholm reviews The Charlatans and Martin Carr at Aberdeen Music Hall.

The Charlatans are treated as conquering heroes to a partisan crowd.

Has it really been nearly ten years since The Charlatans last played Aberdeen? Last time around they played a run through of their classic album ‘Tellin’ Stories’ and the odd b-side from that phase of their career.

Tonight is also a dive into the past – a retrospective set in support of last year’s compilation album ‘A Head Full of Ideas: The Best of Charlatans’

But before The Charlatans take to the stage for what was supposed to be a 30th – now 32nd – anniversary tour, it’s the turn of former Boo Radleys guitarist and songwriter Martin Carr and his band, What Future, to entertain the crowd.

Most of the crowd seem to be in the bar when they come on but by the end of the set the hall is suitably filled with an audience appreciative of his songwriting skills.

Martin Carr

His bright indie pop still retains a knack for the harmonies and hooks that made Boo Radleys stars in the mid 90s. Leaning heavily on his solo material for the 30 minute set there’s only the one nod to his former band with a closing performance of the brilliant ‘Lazarus’ – which is met with an applause as rapturous to the one given when he says “have a good night – fuck the Tories”.

The Thurso born, Wallasey raised, singer and his band may have won a few more fans tonight with both his music and his politics.

Coming on stage to the pulsating ‘Forever’, The Charlatans are treated as conquering heroes to a partisan crowd.

It’s hit after hit, hook after hook, as they blast through over 100 mins of classics selected from their back catalogue.

The LED backdrop plays videos and shows pictures from the past three decades of their career – ticket stubs, tour posters, old concerts and, poignantly, old footage of late keyboard player Rob Collins and drummer Jon Brooks, who tragically died of a brain tumour in 2013.

But this isn’t a wake, it’s not a simple case of nostalgia and they are certainly not resting on their laurels – this is a band that have embraced all genres, mixed up the past and looked to the future.

From the soulful ‘A Man Needs to be Told’ to the Chemical Brothers infused dance beats of ‘One to Another’ to the Stones-y swagger of ‘Just When You’re Thinking Things Over’, it’s a joyous and life affirming set by a band that have never stood still.

Highlights? Everything. There are no mishits, no songs that make you want to go to the bar.

It’s all killer, no filler, as they say.

Closing – as ever – with an extended ‘Sproston Green’, the band leave the stage tired and exhausted as the crowd, reluctantly, leave the exits the in the very same state.

Setlist:

Forever
Weirdo
Can’t Get Out of Bed
Then
So Oh
You’re So Pretty – We’re So Pretty
Sleepy Little Sunshine Boy
Just When You’re Thinkin’ Things Over
One to Another
Different Days
Future Tense (with Ian Rankin) (Spoken word)
Plastic Machinery
I Never Want an Easy Life If Me and He Were Ever to Get There
A Man Needs to Be Told
The Blind Stagger
The Only One I Know
North Country Boy
How High

Encore:

Sproston Green

Jun 162022
 

Craig Chisholm reviews Pictish Trail and Savage Mansion at The Lemon Tree, Aberdeen.

A Pictish Trail show isn’t your run of the mill concert.

It’s a glorious mish mash of one man and his acoustic guitar, a band playing electro-indie-psych-rock and some of the funniest between song anecdotes and asides to the crowd that’s guaranteed to bring a smile to your face and a spring to your step.

Pictish Trail is better known to his Mum as Johnny Lynch. He’s a resident of Eigg, a prolific song writer, the head honcho of the Lost Map record label and, as cliched as it sounds, one of the best live acts around just now.

But before he and his band entertain the crowd, it’s the turn of Lost Map signees Savage Mansion to warm up attendees.

The Glasgow based band play an infectious brand of shambolic indie pop that’s a treat to the ears. There are shades of Pavement in there, a hint of Lou Reed in the vocals, all of which combine to create an enjoyable and listenable experience.

Keyboard player Kate is from Aberdeen and, when put on the spot, is asked to name something good about her hometown. She opts for the number 19 bus, which is given a shout out by singer Craig Angus.

Shout out to Savage Mansion too, for a great set.

Headliner Pictish Trail bravely starts the show with two solo acoustic tracks – ‘Easy With Either’ and ‘Nuclear Sunflower’ before being joined by “Eigg’s sexiest man 2009, Joe” on guitar for another track.

Pictish Trail, of course, moved to Eigg in 2010.

Whereby Joe won the award again, apparently.

This sort of quip is just a precursor for the between song banter and shaggy dog tales, including a tale about a near death experience involving a log filled truck with his passengers, comedians Josie Long and James Acaster.

But the humour and laughs are only a small part of an eclectic and joyful set that shows the breadth and depth of Johnny’s talent.

Songs are well crafted, catchy, and clever. Folkie, indie, danceable but draped in a pop sheen.

As he dances through the crowd at one point, still singing, you’re transported to a place of happiness, an escape from the world and its troubles.

Pictish Trail is no stranger to Aberdeen and hopefully he’ll be back soon – if you can’t wait then be sure to catch him in Glasgow, Dunfermline, Arisaig, Oban, Lockerbie and, more local-ish, Findhorn in August.

Set List:

Easy With Either (Johnny solo)
Nuclear Sunflower Swamp (Johnny solo)
Slow Memories (Johnny and Joe)
Double Sided
Island Family
Far Gone (Don’t Leave)
It Came Back
Melody Something
The River It Runs Inside Of Me
Fear Anchor
Turning Back

Encore:

Natural Successor

Jun 142022
 

Craig Chisholm reviews.

Like every other gig happening just now, it’s a been a long time coming.
It’s been two long years since tickets went on sale for The Modfather’s Music Hall gig.
But Weller hasn’t been sitting idly by – he’s released a couple of albums – On Sunset and Fat Pop Vol 1.

There’s been a live stream – Midsommermusick – and there’s even an orchestral live album out this month.

So, that alone would be a lot to cram into a setlist for the new tour – but add in another 14 solo albums, 5 Style Council albums and another half dozen by The Jam then there’s a wealth of material to choose from.

But if choosing a set from such a large back catalogue is daunting, it must be nothing compared to being the opening act for such an icon.

However, if John Rush is nervous then he doesn’t let it show. In fact, his solo set is a confident and accomplished performance.

Hunched behind an acoustic guitar, absorbed in his songs he is humorous, appreciative and seems genuinely happy to be given the opportunity to perform in front of a decent sized crowd.

His folk-tinged pop tunes go down well, and he even gets a sing-a-long going near the end with the crowd joining in on backing vocals. In front of a crowd that likely didn’t know about him before tonight, he does well and will have gained a few fans.

Striding confidently onto stage in a seasonally appropriate crimson jumper, Weller oozes confidence and is every inch the rock legend.

Flanked by two drummers, a bassist, keyboard player, sax player and, crucially, Ocean Colour Scene guitarist Steve Craddock, he blasts through a set that lasts well over 2 hours but feels like it passes in half that time, such is how enjoyable it is.

It’s a confident and measured set – just enough of the hits to please the more chart minded fans; a couple of tracks by The Jam to send the punk fans home happy; a nod to The Style Council for the 80s fans and a fine spread of solo tracks from the last 30 years for the solo performer fans.

It’s a tricky skill to keep everyone happy but Weller retains that skill whilst ploughing his own furrow, not afraid to cut loose and experiment.

Highlight of the set is a quintet of tracks from the solo commercial high point, the classic ‘Stanley Road’, performed back-to-back – the title track itself, followed by ‘Broken Stones’, ‘The Changingman’, ‘Porcelain Gods’ and a sublime ‘You Do Something to Me’.

But the biggest cheers of the night go to a couple of classics by The Jam – ‘That’s Entertainment’ and ‘A Town Called Malice’ which bring the house down at the end of the night.

An epic set by an epic performer.

Set List:

White Sky
Cosmic Fringes
Peacock Suit
My Ever Changing Moods (The Style Council song)
Hung Up
Saturn’s Pattern
Old Father Tyme
Shout To The Top
Village
More
That Pleasure
Stanley Road
Broken Stones
The Changingman
Porcelain Gods
You Do Something to Me
Still Glides the Stream
Shades of Blue
Above the Clouds
Wild Wood
Brushed
Into Tomorrow
Friday Street
Can You Heal Us (Holy Man)
On Sunset
That’s Entertainment (The Jam song)
Town Called Malice (The Jam song)

Oct 202021
 

Review and photographs by Craig Chisholm.

Just over three decades ago, The Quireboys released their debut album ‘A Bit of What You Fancy’.

Tonight, they revisited their commercial high point with a date at the Lemon Tree in Aberdeen.

First however, the crowd are entertained by up-and-coming slide guitarist Troy Redfern, backed with drummer Finn McAuley and bassist Keira Kenworthy.

Redfern is a virtuoso guitarist.

His guitar fireworks are astonishing to watch, his fingers running up and down the fretboard fluidly and gracefully.

But it’s not just a show in histrionics and shredding, it’s raw, gritty, heartfelt blues filled with emotion and belief.

Watching him, you know that he believes in the music he is singing, that he feels it – and that’s important.

It shows authenticity and a love for the genre.

For him to light up the guitar, he needs a strong groove and foundation to sit upon and his rhythm section are more than up to the job – they provide a solid, thunderous backbone to Redfern’s solos and slide guitar masterclass.

Closing his half hour set with a cover of Jimi Hendrix’s classic ‘Voodoo Chile’ you can see he’s made some new fans in the audience, many of whom are queued up minutes later to meet him and purchase his music.

“It’s 7 O’clock and time for a party” as their song goes – well, it’s not, it’s 9 o’clock when they hit the stage, but the party is most definitely on.

It’s been over 31 years now since their debut album ‘A Bit of What You Fancy’ was released.

It was halcyon times for the band back then – the album hit no.2 in the charts, singles went Top 40. There were support slots with the likes of Aerosmith and The Rolling Stones, on the bill of the Monsters of Rock festival at Castle Donington, appearances on Top of The Pops and huge headline tours of the UK, Europe and beyond.

But time moves on and tastes change – at the height of grunge in the early 90s, the band parted ways and went on an extended hiatus for a few years.

But The Quireboys are nothing but tenacious and not ones to shy away from a challenge.

Certain musical styles never go away either – and in the case of their bluesy, classic rock it’s a style that will always have its fans.

And the fans are out tonight as they revisit their debut, changing the running order to bring new focus on old songs and remind everyone why they had so much success with it.

The singles are all greeted with cheers – ‘7 O’Clock’, ‘Hey You’ and ‘There She Goes Again’ working the crowd on the frenzy and getting them dancing.

And there’s moments of poignancy and reflection such as the emotional ballad ‘I Don’t Love You Anymore’.

‘Whipping Boy’ is a particular highlight – low down and dirty slow blues, underpinned with some bass that reverberates through your soul.

The band seem to be enjoying it – lead singer Spike seems particularly happy to be on stage again after Covid’s shutdown of live music.

Between songs he’s humorous and friendly, speaking directly to members of the crowd, always with a twinkle in his eye.

He also seems to be slightly lubricated; shall we say – despite his quips about having not drank for 10 years.

But it’s Friday night and most of the crowd are on the same level as him and it endears him to them even more.

Once a song starts, however, he is back to being the professional showman and singer. Every song is nailed perfectly, not a note dropped or lyric forgotten. And his voice, that raspy, 20 fags a day sound is spot on.

Despite tonight being a celebration of the past, it also points that there’s a strong future for the band – their unique take on that classic Stones or Faces sound, rooted in the blues, R&B and Country will always have listeners. And with over a dozen albums behind them and the potential for a dozen more, so will The Quireboys.

Oct 082021
 

With thanks to Craig Chisholm.

The Quireboys finally make it to Aberdeen after rescheduling due to Covid restrictions.

They will be appearing at The Lemon Tree on Friday, Oct 15, and will be performing their landmark album “A Little Bit Of What You Fancy”.

To celebrate the 30th Anniversary of that iconic debut album the Quireboys recently released a re-recorded version with their distinctive gypsy rock and roll sound.

“A Bit of What You Fancy is where it all began for the Quireboys,” says the band’s frontman Spike.

“It was an incredible album that launched our career. However, the way we sound and play now doesn’t do it justice. Henceforth, it has been a pleasure updating it to our modern-day gypsy rock and roll sound. I’m sure everyone will enjoy this new version in all its glory, marking its 30th Anniversary.”

The Quireboys have always remained true to their roots from the start. The boy’s mission is simply to keep the spirit of good time rock ‘n’ roll alive and kicking into the 21st century.

The 30th Anniversary Edition of “A Bit Of What You Fancy” can be pre-ordered from www.offyerrocka.com/product- category/artists/the-quireboys

Troy Redfern and his three-piece band will support The Quireboys at all shows.

Hailed as Britain’s King of Slide Guitar, Hereford-based singer songwriter, Troy will perform songs from his critically acclaimed new album “The Fire Cosmic” which features the single “Ghosts” that was playlisted on Planet Rock and many other radio stations.

Says Music News.com:

“Troy Redfern is one of the country’s best players and writers and the album is a blast from start to finish.”

Taking up the guitar as a teen, Troy quickly absorbed his musical influences of the early blues pioneers and the energy of the 70’s and 80’s rock icons. The turning point came when he discovered open tunings and slide guitar.

“I immediately felt like I’d come home the moment I put a bottleneck on my finger and started playing slide, it instantly felt completely natural to me. This style of playing helped me find my true voice on the instrument”

The last few years has seen Troy shift into creative overdrive releasing five full length albums in 2020 alone, all receiving worldwide airplay and overwhelmingly positive reviews from the international press, “Island” and “Thunder Moon” both receiving multiple 5-star reviews.

Tickets are available in person at Aberdeen Box or online at https://www.aberdeenperformingarts.com/whats-on/the-quireboys/

Sep 072021
 

By Craig Chisholm.

After a COVID induced hiatus, live music is finally making a return to the Granite City and one of the first major events to happen will be a gig by veteran Scottish indie legends Teenage Fanclub at the city’s iconic Beach Ballroom.

Touring in support of recent acclaimed album ‘Endless Arcade’ – their 12th studio album – the iconic band will undertake an extensive UK & Irish tour that includes dates in Edinburgh, a sold-out Glasgow Barrowlands and, of course, Aberdeen.

The band are no strangers to Aberdeen having played some of the city’s most famous venues including the Lemon Tree, Moshulu, Music Hall & AECC. They actually played the Beach Ballroom in one of their earliest gigs in Aberdeen, supporting Primal Scream way back in 1989.

Teenage Fanclub play the Beach Ballroom on Wed, 15th September. Support provided by Poster Paints’.

Tickets to the Beach Ballroom are available on Ticketmaster now.

Sep 072021
 

By Craig Chisholm.

Young British guitarists Mikhail Asanovic and Jake Wright, together known as The Showhawk Duo, have dazzled audiences worldwide with their spectacular approach to playing the guitar, breaking down barriers between acoustic and electronic music.

Whether playing old-school trance classics or modern funky house, their live show knows no boundaries and will leave you amazed.

Mik is a classical guitarist at heart, having studied at Manchester’s RNCM whereas Jake is an electric junkie and grew up playing in rock and metal bands. Mik’s classical foundation shines through in the music with Jake’s raw percussive approach always keeping the crowd moving.

Together they create a truly unique and impressive sound, and have turned many “acoustic” nights into a thumping rave. 

Together, they started out as buskers and have since gone on to play all over the globe.

They have appeared on BBC Radio 1 on the Nick Grimshaw’s Breakfast Show,  did a 40 minute live broadcast for the LAD Bible, BBC Radio Bristol, and have performed at most of the UK’s large festivals including Main Stage at Bestival, Glastonbury, Isle of Wight Festival, Secret Garden Party, Wilderness, Somersault, Lost Village, Boomtown and more.

They played sell-out shows on their 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 & 2019 UK tours, headlining The O2 Forum in the most recent, and five star reviews followed an official sell out show at Edinburgh Fringe.

International performances include F1 Grand Prix in Singapore, Seychelles, club tours in Spain, Switzerland and the Netherlands and a 20 – date residency at Pacha in Ibiza. 

Now, the duo will perform on stages across the nation, as they embark on their mammoth UK and Ireland tour.

Spanning 26th different dates – including a date at Unit 51 in Aberdeen on Saturday, October 9th – the duo will unleash their fiery acoustic sound to audiences far and wide, as they turn soft acoustic guitars into the ingredients for an unforgettable night of raving.

Support comes from Zen Lewis.

Ages 14+ // Under 18s must be accompanied by an adult. Tickets available now at Skiddle.

Dec 282019
 

Craig Chisholm reviews Primal Scream at The Music Hall, Aberdeen.

The latest Primal Scream singles compilation is entitled ‘Maximum Rock ‘n’ Roll’.

It’s also the words emblazoned on the backdrop behind them on stage. It’s a simple statement.

A statement of intent. A call to arms.

But it’s a reductive statement that doesn’t quite do them justice – sure, the rock n’ roll is to the max, but so is the acid house, the blues, jazz, gospel, krautrock, soul, indie and almost every music genre you can think of.

In their career, spanning over three decades, this is a band that’s not been afraid to spread their sonic wings, to push themselves musically and, famously, lead the fabled rock n’ roll lifestyle.

Being a tour in support of a compilation album means that the set list is simple, direct and has something to please all the audience. There’s no b-sides, no long-forgotten album tracks – each and every song performed was a cherished 7” single, a download or a stream – they are fan favourites that brings back sentimental memories and remind you exactly why you’re here to see them tonight.

The chirping intro to ‘Don’t Fight It, Feel It’ heralds the band on stage.

Longstanding guitarist Andrew Innes, keyboard player Martin Duff, drummer Darrin Mooney and the glamorous bassist Simone Butler are the musical backbone of the band.

But singer Bobby Gillespie is, as always, the star of the show dressed in an eye-catching pink suit as he is tonight.

The acid hazed opening track soon gives way to a eclectic mix of tracks from throughout the years – from the adrenalised industrial thrash of ‘Swastika Eyes’, to the throbbing electro of ‘Miss Lucifer’, the laconic blues of ‘(I’m Gonna) Cry Myself Blind’, the C86 defining indie shuffle of ‘Velocity Girl’, the euphoric rave of ‘Loaded’. ‘Movin’ On Up’ and ‘Jailbird’ provide rock n’ roll kicks, whilst ‘Country Girl’ takes a diversion into Americana and ‘Burning Wheel’ is a fried psychedelic trip into inner space.

The ethos of Primal Scream and their musical mission is buried away in the sample of a radio DJ in the uplifting organ intro to Loaded:

“You will hear gospel; And rhythm and blues and jazz; All those are just labels; We know that music is music”.

Primal Scream may be maximum rock ‘n’ roll but they are so much more instead.

Primal Scream Set List:

Don’t Fight It, Feel It
Swastika Eyes
Miss Lucifer
Can’t Go Back
Accelerator
Kill All Hippies
(I’m Gonna) Cry Myself Blind
I’m Losing More Than I’ll Ever Have
Velocity Girl
Dolls (Sweet Rock and Roll)
Burning Wheel
100% or Nothing
Loaded
Movin’ On Up
Country Girl

Encore:

Come Together
Jailbird
Rocks

Dec 192019
 

Craig Chisholm reviews Adam Ant / Glam Skanks at The Music Hall, Aberdeen.

Today’s popstars are boring and dull.
Look at some of the biggest names in the biz just now – Ed Sheeran, looking like he’s just finished a shift at McDonalds before going busking; Coldplay – bed wetting stadium rock that your parents would approve of; Adele – a less dangerous version of Amy Winehouse that even your Granny likes.

Now look back to the 80s – David Bowie ushering in the decade singing ‘Ashes to Ashes’ and looking like a coke addled death-clown in the video; Boy George – almost guaranteed to give your bigoted uncle a heart attack and causing debates in the school playground as to whether they were a man or a woman.

And, top of the pile, Top of the Pops? The Dandy Highwayman himself, the preening peacock with all the number one hits – Adam Ant.

And here he is tonight, in cold, dark Aberdeen in the middle of November bringing some technicolour glam on a Friday night to the masses.

Looking fit and healthy and much too sprightly for his 65 years on Earth he never stands still on the Music Hall stage as he blasts through a near 2 hour set that boasts 29 songs. The makeup may be toned down somewhat, but the glamour hasn’t and he is still a bona fide rock star on stage – spinning, shuffling and dancing constantly.

There’s an unashamed nostalgia to the massive UK tour he’s undertaking as it celebrates his 1982 album ‘Friend or Foe’.

He starts the set by playing said album from start to finish – 12 tracks that include the hits ‘Goody Two Shoes’, ‘Desperate Not Serious’ and the title track of the album itself which opens the set.

What follows is a greatest hits set that includes some real pop classics in there – ‘Prince Charming’, ‘Dog Eat Dog’, ‘Ant Music’, ‘Kings of the Wild Frontier’ and ‘Stand and Deliver’.

Each song is as familiar as the last and sang word for word by the appreciative audience.

The two hours pass in the blink of an eye – Adam saying his goodbyes as the band, including twin drummers, grind out the coda of ‘Physical (You’re So)’.

As the band finish up, he is gone – a fleeting memory, a half-seen ghost, enigmatic till the end.

LA quartet Glam Skanks, that support Adam tonight, are indebted to him in their glamourous look, all teased hair and trashy glamour.
They blast through a 45 minute set that also recalls T Rex, Hanoi Rocks and glitter punk bands galore. The girls stage presence is cocky and assured, giving it their all with confidence and attitude.

But the night belongs to Adam Ant, still showing he has the charm, wit and star appeal over 3 decades later.

Adam Ant Set List:

Friend or Foe
Something Girls
Place in the Country
Desperate But Not Serious
Here Comes the Grump
Hello, I Love You (The Doors cover)
Goody Two Shoes
Crackpot History and the Right to Lie
Made of Money
Cajun Twisters
Try This for Sighs
Man Called Marco
Dog Eat Dog
Kick!
Vive le Rock
Antmusic
Zerox
Cartrouble
Ants Invasion
Prince Charming
Puss ‘n Boots
Lady
Fall-In
Kings of the Wild Frontier
Beat My Guest
Stand and Deliver

Encore:

Press Darlings
Red Scab
Physical (You’re So)