Saturday, 4 December 2010

Emeli Sande King Tuts 15th November 2010

Emeli describes her sound as 'soul with a rockier edge'.  Emeli commands the centre stage with a powerhouse vocal and songs that cover every emotion. She mixes rock, folk and soul influences to produce her own very unique sound. Her gig King Tuts was the last show of her mini-Scottish tour that included Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh and Glasgow, and they were her first gigs in a while.

She sang her new album songs, as well as her hit singles. I enjoyed the atmosphere of 'Stop the Clock' the moodiness on 'Vegas' and the upbeat vibes of 'Lifted'. Her set also included a medley of her hit songs, including 'Never be Your Woman' (with Wiley 2010) and 'Diamond Rings' (with Chipmunk 2009). She sang songs from the expected release of her first album - 'Kill the Boy' and 'Daddy.'

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Kris Drever, John McCusker, Donald Shaw, Milngavie Folk Club 20th November 2010

Kris performed his folk songs backed by Scottish folk royalty John McCusker and Celtic festival director Donald Shaw - interspersed with feet-stomping classy folk reels, some written by 'Under One Sky' McCusker. McCusker was on fiddle and Shaw was playing accordion and keys. The highlight songs for me were 'Sweet Honey in the Roll' written by McCusker and Boo Hewerdine, and the song Drever finished his set with - 'Poorest Company' by Woomble and McCusker.
Kris Drever is from Orkney Scotland, and he is a Scottish contemporary folk musician and songwriter, who came to prominence in 2006 with the release of his debut solo album, Black Water. Drever also plays in the folk trio, Lau, alongside Martin Green and Aidan O'Rourke and has worked with numerous other British folk contemporaries, including Kate Rusby, John McCusker, Eddi Reader and Julie Fowlis. Lau won Best BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards - Best Group 2008 and 2009. Kris is the son of Ivan Drever, a former member of Wolfstone.

Drever was supported ably by Yvonne Lyon from Greenock who has a very good voice.

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Tim Robbins and The Rogues - Oran Mor 2nd October 2010

I was looking forward to hearing Mr Robbins live. Just a few months back I'd read Tim's thoughts on Dylan - and that his favourite song of all time was Joni's 'A Case of You.' I thought here's a guy with good taste in music - plus he acted the lead role in one of the best movies ever made.

Tim Robbins and his 6-piece band, the Rogues Gallery, played a highly entertaining set that went down well with a packed Oran Mor. Tim is 6ft 7 ( the tallest to person to receive an Oscar!) and his head practically touches the stage's ceiling - about which he makes a few jokes. He has a relaxed warm air about him for a Hollywood A lister and has a 6-piece top quality band with him - which included a mandolin, clarinet, accordion, double bass, many guitar changes! and drums. The band featured such talents as Roger Eno, David Coulter and Kate St John.

While his voice may not be the strongest and he is not a seasoned performer all his songs tell of an emotional journey and few artists do this well. He sang songs of Americana roots blues from his new album as well as songs by folk legends - Johnny Cash's 'Flosom Prison Blues', Tom Waits 'All The World is Green', and Billie Holliday's 'What A Little Moonlight Can Do' - as well as some more upbeat rocky numbers. He also had the crowd singing along for 'Mary Don't You Weep.' His liberal political views run through his music with songs such as 'Crush On You'; a song about meeting Mandela entitled ' Lighting Calls' and a 'Time To Kill' a song about talking with an Iraq war veteran.

Monday, 18 October 2010

Edinburgh Book festival 2010

I come to my hometown on a sunny Tuesday - I come to be inspired, and it never disappoints. My theme is 'words' - perhaps oddly for a photographer? - and also fittingly I am covering the book festival.
I wrote back 2005 that Glasgow has so much music, but that Edinburgh has more stories, and it's as if they bubble up from the cobbled closes and the city of forgotten black spires, a hidden backdrop to those past stories.

Words and Folk nights Edinburgh! I had a bonny time at Edinburgh festival where character, poetry, art and music flourish for a few sunny weeks - actually it was freezing also in the press pod! I am incredibly proud of my book festival shoots - and such diverse, colourful and memorable figures from the worlds of Irish poetry, political thought, children's authors, dramatic thrillers, autobiographies and more - including Irish poet Seamus Heaney. This is the first serious portraits shots I've taken.
Randomness on Tuesday. At the Book Festival I met my cousin, and an old school friend and was also greeted as a 'long lost friend' by a friend of the famous Irish poet Seamus Heaney, who seemed to mistake me for Seamus Heaney's wife, who was coming in behind me! You could feel the love. Check his new book 'The Human Chain.'
The Book festival is very much for families, the well manner educated set and the literary set who wear light coloured jackets and cream hats. I attended a talk on the importance of the 'story' with the challenge and the resolution - that help us to make sense of our very random existence.

Saturday. Melvyn Bragg's talk. He spoke of his interest in living poets and the merits of Popular Culture as opposed to high culture - and he said that he wondered why all the great artists had to be dead to be considered great.

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Folk Nights Edinburgh

As I descended the narrow steps to the Royal Oak folk club in Edinburgh, I heard the rich energy of the folk band Bellevenue Rendezvous. We were greeted by a tall grinning man with a long shaggy beard and large smile who introduced the band in his broad Irish brogue and curled his voice with relish around the words. The club had that perfect warm folk  vibe that lets you know instantly that you are going the to enjoy your visit. Ruth played a Swedish nickleharper - an instrument that is a cross between a violin and a piano and she told us that it has a range of 3 and a half octaves. Gavin was an enthusiastic and fun fiddle player and the band mixed traditional and contemporary tunes. I've heard this band before and recommend them. 

Afterwards I made my way up to George IV Bridge to the famous the Sandy Bell's folk bar. that I used to haunt in my younger days, when I dated a folk guitarist. Such great FUN, and I got some cool pics..... many many memories here for me. 
 In the hub of Sandy Bells where smiles say it all - feet stomp, fiddle bows fly - and I reflect on those who have played here before.

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Rab Noakes Oran Mor 26th June 2010

One of Scotland's quiet legend singer songwriters, Noakes has recorded with Lindisfarne, Gerry Rafferty and others. 
Rab is quiet and unassuming and his demeanor, look and sound reminded me of Buddy Holly and those 'Americana rock n' roll week day blues'.

Rab started with 'Eden's Flow' and ' A Brighter Blue'.  While he is a prolific songwriter Rab also likes to sing several cover songs, and he sang Radiohead's 'High and Dry.'  He spoke here of how 'electric guitars enhanced the dynamics on top of a good rich song' and he said that he 'liked to find the song underneath and strip it back to see if it still works.'  

He said how film songs are often of such high quality and sang a song from Calamity Jane.  He also sang a moving version of a song made famous by Doris Day 'Secret Love.'   He spoke of a documentary on Jimmy McGregror 'Bring It on Home' - (I met Jimmy after the gig when I was looking at Rab's CDs).  Noake's said how he admired Dylan's creative longevity and his leaving often his best stuff off his albums. He finished his set with a cover of one of Dylan's lesser known songs 'Mississippi', and also with one of his all time classics 'Somebody Counts on Me.' 

He commented that industry people should realise that 'we are just as interesting at 54 as we are at 24!'  Very true I felt!  Here is a Scottish legend often ignored - it made me think of guys like Seasick Steve and other American musicians who are considered 'cool' these days and Steve played Glastonbury last year. Noakes has a unique sound and memorable catchy songs. I judge a good gig by the audience reactions - and tonight people were mesmerized. Earlier a sound engineer had said that he sounded great during the sound check and said that I would love the gig.  The venue wasn't packed out though to my surprise.  After the gig I saw several at the CD table chatting and looking at Rab's CDs and saying how much they had enjoyed the gig.  Quite emotional really. 

Noakes recorded with Rafferty 'Can I Have My Money Back' and was on an early Stealers Wheel record. His 'Branch ' single was released in 1971.  He first recorded 'Highway to Take You Home' in 1970 for  the Decca label.  He later toured with the Veraflames, and he is now involved with production, writing and performance with has his own production company 'Neon.'  His sound may be referred to as a mixture of 'country with very unique interpretations of  rare contemporary material.' 

He hails from St Andrews. I first came across Rab's songs when I went to folk festivals in my twenties, and where we enjoyed singing his harmony-rich songs. For me it is not about those fantasy genre definitions on Wikipedia - what I care about is how original, authentic and moving an artist is and Noakes is the real deal. Rab was supported by Finlay Napier. 

Rab's Set List
 -(thanks Ran for sending over!)
1. eden's flow (RN)
2. a brighter blue (RN)
3. what do you want the girl to do? (Allen Toussaint)
4. roll on Saturday (RN)
5. light in my heart (RN)
6. high and dry (Radiohead)
7. bring it on home (Sam Cooke)
8. absence (RN & Johanna Demker)
9. a day away from here (RN & Hilary Brooks)
10 do that again (RN)
11. secret love (Webster, Fain)
12. gently does it (RN)
13. somebody counts on me (RN)
14. running from diane (RN, Nikolai Bloch & Julia Brown)
15. mississippi (Bob Dylan) 

Monday, 28 June 2010

*Paul McCartney Hampden Glasgow 20th June 2010 The Up and Coming Tour

The magic of the Beatles and of music - how do you TOP that? - legend. Paul enjoyed playing to the Hampden crowd, and paused over the entrance moment while a lead was fixed.
He often makes eye contact, not only do you feel the love and that he adores doing the live shows. As with the Beatles songs, it all feels personal even in this massive crowd. Many songs (and not only Hey Jude) were about the audience singing along with that communal live gig experience.

He did most of the classic Beatles I hoped to hear 'Eleanor Rigby',  'Blackbird', 'A day in the Life'  that became 'Give Peace A Chance'...'I've Got a Feeling', 'Paperback Writer', more, more... some with the full band, some with only Paul and guitar, and some at the grand piano. 
Paul likes to rock it up and I was thrilled to hear 'Day Tripper', 'Back in the USSR' and 'Get Back' as encore songs.   They also performed  'Yesterday' with only Paul and guitar, and 'Mull of Kintyre' with a school Pipe band backing the band.  We felt the hot flames of fireworks for 'Live and Let Die.' 
Songs included  'Rock n Roll it To You' a tribute to Hendrix.  He paid tribute to his band mates Lennon and George. He talked of George's ukulele and his version of Harrison’s perfect  'Something' was very moving I thought. . At one point he said that he never would have thought growing up he would ever talk with the Russian Defence minister, and he said to Paul, 'We learned English through the Beatles songs.' Paul's music isn't about sending out any idealist message - more about the love and peace we might all hope to share, and having fun with life!  

As McCartney pulled from his vast back catalogue of songs I wondered could there possibly be more classics to hear and oh yes there are!  He took to piano for his moving slower songs - 'The Long and Winding Road', 'Let It Be', 'And I Love Her' - his tribute to Linda.  He made many guitar changes, from an original Beatles guitar to a Gibson fender.  His comment was - 'well I have them all so I might as well show them off!'

His band seemed to enjoy playing with Paul and they performed for two and a half hours, and the set covered the whole range of Paul's music, through early Beatles to Wings.  The music brought back the 60s and those origins of pop music.  Paul seemed as full of love and life and music as ever, and I can feel that sense of 'magic' that was part of the Beatles there on stage.
I met my old primary school friend for the gig, and we sat on the grass near Hampden for a picnic.  We used to listen to all the Beatles albums many moons ago - her older brother had the entire collection, and I can remember how in awe I was of both their music and album covers! Her brother sadly died of motor neuron disease several years ago so I am sure the gig was very poignant for her. 

We had tears at 'Let It Be' - for those remembered. Simply the best sure enough.
 It has been a dream hoping to hear Paul live one day, and to hear those songs I have loved for so long, to take photos just an incredible experience and my ultimate dream. I thought I never would.

Thank you Paul for the dreams. Unforgettable.

Snowpatrol Bellahouston Park Glasgow June 2010

No One does melodic rock pop better - this is a band reaching their top form.

I first saw Snowpatrol at T in the Fringe Edinburgh 2006. Their album 'Eyes Open' had just been released then, and it is often better once a band has had time to tour the songs from an album and to get a feel for which songs work best with the audience. They have so many top quality songs that people simply love to sing. Gary Lightbody really worked the crowd this time - and he kept the photographers on their toes running after him! There is something closely emotional about Lightbody's voice and love songs - they brim full of charisma, yearning and hopes... and float on the warm breeze.

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Q tour King Tuts 11th May 2010


This youthful band reminded me of a cross between London mods and American 70s rock bands such as Springsteen, and shades of U2. They play with fiery abandon with a rich vibrant sound.

Tiffany Page is vibrant and sassy - and she plays her guitar with a sexy swagger and sings with a husky edgy voice. She has several catching tunes - my favourite being '7 Years Too Late'. Her voice has been compared to the tomboy edge of a new Chrissie Hydnes (of Pretenders fame 'Brass in Pocket'). Her band are strong and energetic too. She is signed to Mercury Records, and has a single "Walk Away Slow" and expected album "On Your Head."

Detroit Social Club are an indie rock band from Newcastle. Their front man commands the King Tuts stage with the fun soul of a young Joe Cocker. Their music has a punk dance vibe, and 80s feel and they are entertaining to watch. They have been tipped to achieve national success by several British music magazines, notably NME. They are signed to Fiction Records.

Saturday, 1 May 2010

NME Radar tour King Tuts Glasgow 26th April 2010

Three very different bands! - from dancing upbeat, to charged rock and lastly stylised 80s rock.
First on stage was the very likable Darwin Deez from New York, and he and his dancers were a lot of fun. They literally bounced on stage and then performed the first of several slick dance routines, and very fit they are too! Darwin seemed to smile his way through his set, and he made eye contact often - and at the end of the set he said,'oh you like us!' They were also set up to focus on the edges and middle of the audience and in so doing kept us with them. I got some energetic fun shots of them. After I noticed them mixing and chatting with the audience which I thought lent a good touch and only adding to their popularity - rather than any 'aloofness'. Darwin's music was in the Conor Obrest style. I also spotted Darwin dancing at the front with his very long arms waving loosely during Everything Everything's set!
Next up were 'Everything Everything' - a rock band in red lights. There was a positive energy from this fresh rock band, while their lead singer has a strong voice with the elastic range and punch of a younger Tom Yorke. They had a good crowd of supporters there who seemed to enjoy their set. I was handed their set list so here it is - Intro, Suffragette, Schoolin, Qwerty, Engine Room, Tin, Photoshop, MY KZ, Weights.
We then waited patiently as the stage was set up for the last act another Manchester band called Hurts. Their set had a white backdrop with lights facing the audience - and this was in stark contrast to the reds of Everything Everything with their charged rock music. Hurts were named in a BBC poll of one to watch in 2010. I met Adam earlier when he came out to the bar area, and I said how much I liked their songs that I'd heard on YouTube - and he looked very smart in a red waistcoat. He said he had played at King Tuts before - with their previous band Daggers maybe?

Hurts are a duo with Theo the lead singer and Adam their keyboard player.

Laura Marling Old Fruitmarket 13th April 2010

She seems so young - and she is! She has a soft, clear focus and grip on reality - if mainly through books, her upbringing and her father. She sings a Neil Young song 'Damage Done' taught to her by her father. She speaks of her father's view in Hampshire where she grew up and his wanting to be taken there one last time.
Her new folk songs are of old stories and of England, with something peaceful and dreamlike in her voice. She has a sweet sensitivity, and her eyes are gently expressive. Laura crosses her ankles as if rocking softly on her toes and on her melodies that weave and spin gentle spells. Her lyrics tell of sparkled stories that catch the breath of winds and deep forests. You sense she has read a lot. She stands a bit shyly centre stage with her guitar, and yet while Laura looks demure she starts with her strong and charged single ' Devil Spoke.' She follows with songs from her new album - 'Goodbye England' 'Made By Maid' and 'What he Wrote' - with the lyrics 'He wrote, I'm broke, please send for me, But I'm broken too, and spoken for, do not tempt me.' She also takes the tempo up with songs such as 'Darkness Descends.'
In the City Hall foyer they are selling very classy and artistic Laura merchandise - T shirts and posters.

Fanfarlo ABC Glasgow march 2010

Fanfarolo who suported Mumford - top band. Also a pic here of the audience during Mumford.

Friday, 23 April 2010

Mumford & Sons ABC Glasgow 3rd March 2010

Mumford & Sons, an indie folk band from London, warmed the winter chills as they took to the ABC stage amid red and atmospheric lighting and a cheering sold out venue. They play with soaring keys, pumping banjo, and pristine vocal harmonies. Their lead singer Marcus has dark good looks and a glint in his eye, along with a voice that aches and moves with energetic passions. The band consists of Marcus Mumford (guitar, drums, mandolin), Country Winston ( banjo, dobro), Ben Lovett (keyboards, organ), Ted Dwane (double bass). They formed in late 2007 out of London's folk scene, along with other artists such as Laura Marling, and Noah and the Whale, and they have supported Marling at concerts. Mumford and Lovett met while attending King's College School alongside Noah and the Whale bassist Matt Owens, whilst Marshall attended St Paul's School along with Charlie Fink, lead singer of Noah and the Whale. The band are signed to Island Records and their debut album, Sigh No More, was released in the UK in October 2009, and in February 2010 in the US. The band has achieved success in Australia, and also played live on CBS Late Show with David Letterman.

Thursday, 22 April 2010

Danny Thompson and Friends Old Fruitmarket 30th January 2010

Renowned bass player Thompson introduced an all-star line up that included - Darrell Scott, Luka Bloom, Donald Shaw, Michael McGoldrick, Eddi Reader, Martin Simpson, Mollie O'Brien, and Tim O'Brien. They each recalled memories of Martyn and included several of Martyn's best loved songs, finishing with his best known , May You Never. This concert was part of the Celtic Connections festival and a tribute to John Martyn who died in January 2009. Thompson came out firstly for a short bass solo centre stage. He is known best as a double bassist, who over his long career has played with among others, respected folk/rock musicians Richard Thompson, Gerry Rafferty and John Martyn. Thompson has played with nearly every major artist all over the world, over his fifty five year career. He received a Lifetime achievement award in the 2007 BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards. One aspect that I enjoy at the Celtic festival is the artists collaborating, and its clear how much fun they were all having working with each other on stage at this gig. Many of the artists at this gig and others, talked about their writing with other artists, and being inspired by them. In this world it is the norm to co-write or cover others songs.

**Celtic Connections 2010

This year I went to more eclectic or world music shows. In fact, looking at the brochure it can be hard to find the authentic Scottish roots music. It can be a funding thing also - as inclusion and world music are the big buzz words.
I attended a to a few 'Open Mic' sessions/The Danny Kyle Stage. These are held each day at 5pm at the Royal Concert Hall - and have a packed audience and the standard is very high. This is the place for new talent and to get a support slot at Celtic. The first day I was there, there was a beautiful dark haired violinist from France who had travelled especially to Glasgow for the open mic. On Thursday a young girl singer called Rachel Sermanni caught my attention there when I stopped in briefly. I found out that she has been working with none other than respected song writer Boo Heredine for her first album and Liz (who introduces the open mic) said this girl is going places - I thought so too.

My highlights at Celtic this year were -
Fyfe Dangerfield ABC 16th Jan 2010 - Dangerfield stormed the ABC Glasgow with his latest solo album 'Yellow Moon'. He is a vibrant, energetic and expressive performer.There were shades of the Beatles and other musical influences here. Fyfe is also the leader of the pop alternative band the Guillemots.
Kirsty McGee & the Hobopop Collective, Classic Grande January 16th 2010 - for an evening of new folk traditions Live album No 5. - Kirsty McGee sings in several styles - roots, Americana, jazz and blues. She has a soothing and engrossing vocal as she sings her hopeful love songs.
Thursday the Old Fruitmarket - The Low Anthem from New York State. There is 'lots' of space and freeness in their music. They made me think of hippies and various influences from Conor Obrest, The Shins to the Eagles.
Danny Thompson the Old Fruitmarket - Renowned double bass player Thompson introduced an all-star line up that included - Darrell Scott, Luka Bloom, Donald Shaw, Michael McGoldrick, Eddi Reader, Martin Simpson, Mollie O'Brien, and Tim O'Brien. This was a quality and stately gig - and uplifting and heartfelt by the performers.
The Transatlantic Sessions Celtic Connections 2010 - Royal Concert Hall 31st January 2010. The standard of all the artists involved is extremely high, and includes the top Celtic and Americana artists - including - Michael McGoldrick (flute), James Mackintosh (drums, Donald Shaw (piano), Danny Thompson (double bass), John Doyle (guitar), Russ Barenberg (guitar), Bruce Molsky (fiddle), Tim O’Brien (banjo), Sara Watkins (fiddle), Dan Tyminski (guitar and mandolin) - and the musical directors Aly Bain and Jerry Douglas. Then the lady singers were introduced - Eddi Reader, Karen Matheson and Cara Dillon. A heart-warming, emotional quality concert. Later we stopped at the Late Sessions and heard the winner of the BBC2's Young Folk Musician 2009 played. He had the audience clapping enthusiastically.

Collaborations - One aspect that I enjoy at Celtic is the artists collaborating and it is obvious how much fun they have on stage (presumably backstage too!). Many of the artists at the gigs spoke about their writing with other artists and being inspired by them. In the folk world it is the norm to co-write or cover others songs.

It is worth tasting the buzz of it especially over the final weekend. I know how much I got from the folk festivals in my twenties and it was an enormous eye opener about music and so very different to the pop/rock music worlds. It is more organic and the influence of the huge media conglomerates is less obvious. There are many younger artists here who are not at all about the stuffy folk image and their music expresses many genres and cultures. For example - Laura Veirs from Canada, Fyfe Dangerfield (of the alterative band the Guillemots), Speed Camera from Algiers, Hobopop Collective from Manchester and The Low Anthem from New York State. My twenty year old musician son, who plays in a rock band, came some Celtic gigs with me and I am now hopeful that not all young people view folk music as 'stuffy' or mainly for older people!

This was the 17th year and another successful one for the festival. I notice my photos change each year - I am not sure if it is me improving or the festival changing. I had a wonderful couple of weeks of music from such a wide variety of places, cultures and influences. 
Big thanks to all involved, and especially the many talented artists and their music. Celtic Connections gigs 2010 - Laura Veirs, Hobopop Collective, Fyfe Dangerfield, Stornaway, Beth Nielsen Chapman, The Future Trad, Angelique Kidjo, Speed Caravan, Gypsy Kings and Queens, Justin Adams and Juldeh Camera, Bellevue Rendezvous, Catriona MacDonald, The Low Anthem, Danny Thompson, Rachel Harrington, Diana Jones, The Transatlantic Sessions with Jerry Douglas and Aly Bain.

Thursday, 8 April 2010

The Low Anthem, the Old FruitMarket 28th January 2010

Haunting and even spiritual - they play their music with flexible bass and lots of space. Their lead singer has one of those perfect high tenor voices. They describe their music as Alternative or folk rock. The Low Anthem played their enriching Americana and minimalist rock to an appreciative audience at the Old Fruitmarket Glasgow. The band consists of Ben Knox Miller, a folk musician, Jeff Prystowsky, a jazz bassist and composer Jocie Adams.

They played tracks from their third self-released album, 2008's Oh My God, Charlie Darwin. This album was named Album of the Month by Uncut and was also nominated for the 2009 Uncut Music Award. For me the stand out songs were "Charlie Darwin" " To Ohio" and "Yellowed by the Sun." The band also picked the energy of the set up and performed some jazzier and rockier tunes.

They play around 30 instruments between them – including zither, pump organ, Tibetan singing bowl, trumpet, banjo and clarinet – and have influences such as Bob Dylan, Neil Young and Tom Waits. To give you an idea the Low Anthem is now travelling with - WWI portable pump organ, harmonium, AJ & HH 29" thunder drum, nipple gong, 3 clarinets, a really big fiddle, E flat marching horn, sizzling set of crotales, electricity aided guitar, rusty saw, accordion, 2 fiddles...and enough harmonicas to summon a swarm of locusts - apparently!

They met at Brown university and the band made me think of hippies and various influences from Connor Obrest, the Shins to the Eagles. I enjoyed the ethereal and atmospheric nature of their live performance - low key yet also uplifting. There was very much a student/indie music crowd at this gig. It was worth seeing them live, and I recommend checking them out.

They were ably supported by Fraser Anderson a singer-songwriter from Edinburgh who is now living in France, and is due to release his third album, 151, in January 2010.