Wednesday 9 November 2011

*Emeli Sande Oran Mor Glasgow 1st November 2011

Emeli burst on the Oran Mor stage firing on all cylinders. I saw her gig here for her first EP launch in December 2006, when she sang her own songs and a Nina Simone song. I saw her again four years later at King Tuts in December 2010 and she has had a busy year since then with considerable songwriting success. In 2011 she has had The Mobos, her debut single Heaven which reached No 2 in the UK charts in October. Her second single Daddy is due for release in November and her album, Our Version of Events, will be released early 2012. Emeli spoke of how wonderful the past year has been for her and of her present number one song with Professor Green titled 'Read all about It.

Tonight, again at the Oran Mor stage, she owned the stage and took us on her musical journey through soul, gospel, rock and R & B.  Emeli sang the new songs from her upcoming album – as well as a medley of her past hit singles collaborations.

She sat at the keyboard for her song ‘Clown’ and said it was here that she started her musical journey before co-writers and more were involved.  She said this song was a favourite from her new album and we heard why. It was a beautiful haunting song when I wished I had remembered to bring my recorder with me!  She talked about the wonderful experience of writing with Alicia Keys in LA and sang their collaboration song which was titled ‘Hope.’  
Emeli finished her set with her singles Heaven and Daddy and for her encore sang she sang 'Maybe' when the poignancy of her voice shone through with lyrics such as ' We can try a bit harder, We can make it work.'

She gave an accomplished and energetic performance. Her excitement to be performing her songs with a top band back home in Glasgow here where it all started was palpable. The venue was sold out as is the rest of her first intimate headline tour. 
Her music is rocky and upbeat. It is also full of pathos and sits on the edge of our joys and sorrows. As Emily says herself..'This ain't no 'soft soul easy listening' but soul with a questioning edge.The expressive timbre of her voice sends shivers.  She states that her music is 'soul with a rocky edge' and influenced by artist such as Portishead, Massive Attack and Joni Mitchell.

I am now excited for her album release and I expect her album to be a smash success!
Emeli drew attention for her big soul voice when only 16. She attended Glasgow medical school and after obtaining a medical degree in Neuroscience, she decided to focus on her music. I wish her well for her album release. It is clear this lady doesn’t do things by half measures!  MORE Photos - 
 SET List
1. Tiger
2. Where I Sleep
3. Suitcase
4. Lifetime
5. Clown (Emeli piano)
6. My kind of Love
7. Next To Me
8. Breaking the Law
9. Hope – River (Emeli Piano)
10. (Medley)
11. Gravity
12. Daddy
13. Maintain
14. Heaven
15. Maybe (encore)

Thursday 3 November 2011

Goa Xingjian

Goa is from China, after speaking out against the cultural revolution he now lives in exile in France, in his Second Life.  As happened in Russia after this country's revolution, the 'free thinkers' and the creative people have had to flee China.  He is a writer, poet, playwright and painter and I went to his talk this August at the Edinburgh International Book Festival 2011.
Goa discussed his views on the differences between the artistic genres and the aesthetics of the different art forms - he spoke of how painting is not literary, theatre is not literal, and the art of the narrative. He said that Literature has suffered from political interventions and it can subjugate literature when authors submit to politics. That globalization imposes also. 

He talked of the necessity for literature to confront experience. Of how we don't understand 'Evil' and the 'Nazi' experience and how history could easily repeat itself. That people 'like to be led' as it is the easy way and how important 'independence' of Thought' is. 

Gao had a deep serenity and calmness about him.  His paintings are very good and they lead the eye on mystical journeys. He talked of setting aside months to paint when he barely reads at all - because image and painting must come direct (without words). When he paints he listens to music and he feels that painting is beyond words.
Gao describes himself as a 'total artist' - creating novels, short stories, essays, plays, paintings and film.  His 'Ballad Nocturne'  continues his ongoing experimentation with dissolving and redefining artistic boundaries, and with melding aesthetic forms.

*Bob Dylan Braehead Arena Glasgow 9th October 2011

Dylan revisited his favourite sons and as the familiar song refrains start it's like going home again. 
I went with my guitarist son, and he was nearly as overwhelmed as I was! Dylan performed more than I expected. At the SECC Glasgow in 2006 we were further back and all I remember was Dylan hunched over the keyboards. Happily for this gig he even smiled a few times as he faced the audience at the mic for several songs when he squatted slightly and seemed to enjoy himself. It is simply inspiring to hear and see him live... 

I noticed the admiration and awe of his band as they strove to embrace his music. His lead guitarist lent forward towards Dylan at the keyboards as if to draw from his wisdom. His band did excellent work of expressing the songs.  
I could feel the reverence of the crowd at the front and this is serious business being a Dylan fan! Few are drinking. Most have travelled to many Dylan gigs - and have seen him ten or twelve times at least. One fan beside me saw him in the 60s at the Edinburgh Playhouse when Dylan was 24 and had just gone rocky.  And yes he was seventy too, the same age as Dylan is now.

Highlights Songs - Full Set List below. Songs: It Ain't Me Babe, Tangled Up in Blue, Simple Twist of Fate, Desolation Row. For his encore Dylan sang Like a Rolling Stone, and All Along The Watchtower. Mark Knopfler supported (think Dire Straits and Money for Nothing ) and he gave a very capable performance. I'm not sure what it is like supporting a master craftsman like Dylan and many artists of any calibre must feel second rate.

Dylan's songs and stories tell of the contradictions in life as they hit reality square in the face with his hard-hitting lyrics, voice and tunes. When he moved from Duluth Iowa to Greenwich village New York, Dylan soaked up many diverse influences for his music. Dylan has piercing eyes and a cracking, scorched voice just like the blues singer Robert Johnston he so admires. 

He takes us to the other side of his songs. Perhaps we hope he might take us to that promised land? Going to see Dylan live is like a pilgrimage and you meet many other dedicated disciples on the way there and on the way back. You either get Dylan or you don't - and you have to go to him he doesn't come to you.

None of the usual descriptions can really apply to Dylan.  Music is his life.  How can I possibly write that his lyrics are colourful or deep when these words sound such simple clichés.  Dylan has opened my eyes, perhaps he shows us the promised land is possible.
It is wonderful to be alive in the time of a poet like Bob Dylan.  A comment from Rab Noakes -
'I can't imagine my life without Dylan in it.'  Bob was on great form last night. Good-natured, good song-choices, good band esp Charlie Sexton.'


There is a site for Dylan's set lists and lyrics (thanks to the fan beside me told me about) called boblinks.  -

Set List
1. Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat (Bob on keyboard)
2. It Ain't Me, Babe (Bob on keyboard)
3. Things Have Changed (Bob center stage with harp)
4. Tangled Up In Blue (Bob center stage with harp)
5. Cold Irons Bound (Bob center stage with harp)
6. Simple Twist Of Fate (Bob on guitar)
7. Honest With Me (Bob center stage with harp)
8. Desolation Row (Bob on keyboard)
9. Highway 61 Revisited (Bob on keyboard)
10. Blind Willie McTell (Bob center stage with harp)
11. Thunder On The Mountain (Bob on keyboard)
 12. Ballad Of A Thin Man (Bob center stage with harp)      
13. Like A Rolling Stone (Bob on keyboard)
14. All Along The Watchtower (Bob on keyboard)

Band Members
Bob Dylan - guitar, keyboard, harp
Tony Garnier - bass
George Recile - drums
Stu Kimball - rhythm guitar
Charlie Sexton - lead guitar
Donnie Herron - electric mandolin, pedal steel, lap steel