Sunday, 24 November 2013

KT Tunstall O2 Academy

KT Tunstall, Scottish singer songwriter played a gig at the O2 Academy Glasgow 21st November 2013 as part of her UK Tour for her fifth studio album Invisible Empire // Crescent Moon.

The new album is a step on for KT and she spoke of touring with folk royalties the Carthy family and learning so much from them. The diverse folk roots influence can be heard in a more mature and sophisticated sound and songs.  She has also been over working in  the States which gives this album a more cross over feel with both Scots and American influences. Tunstall has won a Brit and an Ivor Novello Award.  

A Year now since Emeli at Royal Albert hall

It is now exactly a year since Emeli’s Royal Albert hall gig - it was one of the best days for me and totally unforgettable. Emeli shone on the stage for her big moment and I am sure a night she will never forget. I remember so well her entrance down the hall steps - and the vivid realization that she had made it as an artist

I first saw Emeli at the Oran Mor Glasgow jn December 2007. Emeli was at medical school with my daughter then and she told me of her big voice. The event was an ep launch with a backing band and she also took to piano to play a Nina Simone song. We thought then that she had a strong voice but needed better songs. I took photos at the gig that were used in her promotions for gigs and press over several years. Emeli worked hard at her degree and writing in London and meanwhile had several chart hit collaborations. 
I have met and spoken with her manager. I first heard her wonderful album songs at the Oran Mor Glasgow again in 2011.
I was pleased to meet Emeli at her King Tuts gig in 2011. 

In November 2012 I took photos at her Royal Albert hall London concert. Wonderful memories...

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Fleetwood Mac SECC

Their music has travelled well over the decades. Fleetwood shone on the SECC stage.  A Revelation. Buckingham still rocks and their songs all these decades later still ring true and relevant - the sign of a classic album! 

Lindsay Buckingham played to the enthusiasm of the crowd and allowed a few at the front to pluck his guitar strings as he came to the edge of the stage - as the sweat dripped off his forehead and he laid into his guitar as if he drew power from it!  He still has what it takes to get an audience rocking!  Stevie changed her dresses several times (from black to burgundy) and she played an danced with her colourful tambourine. She and Buckingham are the centre stage.

It was a delight as they ran through their Rumours songs. There still appears to be this chemistry between Nicks and Buckingham.  The love friction both couples were going through (Stevie Nicks and Lindsay Buckingham; Christine McVie and John McVie) led to cutting yet releasing songs - Nick's "Dreams" with 'You say you want your freedom and who am I to keep you down' and Buckingham's "Go Your Own Way" with 'Loving you isn't the right thing to do, If I could I would give you my world, showed their differing reactions after their breakup!

Sadly McVie choose not to continue touring with Fleetwood back in 1987.  I loved her piano songs "Songbird", "You Make Loving Fun", "Don't Stop" and others.  
Uniquely with Fleetwood there was the female/ male mix alongside the British blues and rock and the West coast LA influence. Drummer Mick Fleetwood on their ground breaking Rumours album ' I always imagine us making Rumours a bit like Paris in the 1920s. My all time favourite Stevie song is "Angel" from Tusk - just has that great style and attitude!  And also her song "Rhiannon" (great live version on iTunes)    

Stevie Nicks - is one of my all time favourite female rock stars. I love her style and attitude and the way her voice cracks yet remains strong and true. 
In Q this month she says she was inspired by Janis Joplin's presence on stage even though she was tiny and by the flamboyance yet humility of Jimi Hendrix.  'Buckingham Nicks' came fully formed when they joined Fleetwood Mac -  their album in 1973, folk rock sound was influenced by Cat Stevens and Jimmy page's acoustic guitar playing in Led Zepplin.

In the 70s Fleetwood’s Rumours was one of the biggest ever selling albums. Their music was so often the backdrop to our lives at that time and in a sense truly reflected the times too the way many great artists have and do. Their music has travelled well over the decades.
Some extracted quotes from Songs for Swinging Lovers, Mojo Janaury 2013 -
As soon as we started rehearsing with Fleetwood Mac found this chemistry, Buckingham recalled. Of the 11 songs, Monday Morning, Landslide and Rhiannon had been written for Buckingham Nicks album. 

' It worked right from the start. Chris, Lindsey and Stevie's voices created these wonderful; harmonies, says Fleetwood.' Lindsey had so much every. We needs someone with a vision.'      

THE CHAIN lyric:  "I can still hear you saying you would never break the chain" and recalled Fleetwood, ' the realization that the music we were making together was more powerful than any of us.' 

Sunday, 10 November 2013

TOP Female Rock Singers

I'm not a helpless little female full of romantic nonsense ... but able to speak up of myself. 

I was writing here about the awesome Fleetwood Mac and in particular Stevie Nicks while listening to new female rock singers Haim. I was struck by Haim's strong edgy voices and the defiant words in their songs and I thought about those female rock stars who have paved the way. 
Rock singers sing to a rhythm and rock beat, usually with a band that consists of drums, bass and guitars. They defy convention with their look and songs and they don't feel they need to adhere to expectations and the rules, but write their own agenda. They are not afraid of their independence. They retain their femininity without having to totter in high heels or strip to gain attention or to please our patriarchal society. Rock singers songs often evoke strong emotions and they normally also play instruments. Rock band Haim have an edge and are the new FRS.

I was surprised when I checked Wikipedia's List of Female Rock Singers - that they list several country, soul and singer songwriters who I'd never consider rock! (such as soul singer Donna Summer and songwriter Carole King)
I am not making a huge list here, but rather those FRS who stand out for me - two in particular.

*Stevie Nicks
is one of my all time favourite female rock stars. I love her style and attitude and the way her voice cracks yet remains strong and true.  Nicks joined Fleetwood Mac in 1974 along with her musical collaborator Lindsay Buckingham (also her lover at that time). The 'Buckingham Nicks' album, released 1973, was influenced by Cat Stevens and Jimmy Page's acoustic guitar playing in Led Zepplin.  
In Q this month she says she was inspired by Janis Joplin's presence on stage even though she was tiny and by the flamboyance yet humility of Jimi Hendrix.

Stevie wore those floaty surreal dresses and her top hat, a perfect look for her dancing presence on stage.  Along with Chrissie Hyde, Nicks was one of the first mega female rock stars, who really knew how to rock with the band, write songs and sing with an edge. Both were American. My all time favourite Stevie song is "Angel" from Tusk - just has that great edge and attitude!  And also her song "Rhiannon" (great live version on iTunes)     

*Chrissie Hynde
I admired the sassiness and confidence of her look, her stance and voice and the way she wore her fringe slightly too long!  Chrissie performed mostly with the band The Pretenders.
I also loved her songs - in particular "Angel of the Morning", "Brass in Pocket", "I'll Stand By You".   
Other top American female rock stars include Janis Joplin, Debbie Harry (Blondie), Pattie Smith.

There has also been several world class Scottish female rock stars - Annie Lennox, Sharleen Spitera, Lulu, KT Tunstall.
English female rock stars include Kate Bush, Alison Moyet, PJ Harvey,  
Also English pop singers I enjoyed a great deal - such as Dusty Springfield, Cilla, Marianne Faithful. 

 Strong female actors who are top role models - Sigourney Weaver (who played the first female lead character in Alien who was actually able to fight back and not stand there screaming! ), Angelina Jolie,(who normally plays strong lead roles in movies who are able to stand up for themselves plus she takes control of her own media)
Stevie Nicks - Angel -

Music Today 2013

The biggest issue we have today in music is to be able to keep pace with change, as the formats by which music is delivered keeps changing at a rapid pace. Along with this is the hankering for the past with the re-emergence of aisles of vinyls. 
The Album Rebirth. Artists today feel that 'music streaming' (such as on Spotify) is limiting for them artistically - while the album format offers them the more classic format to display their craft and the sales of vinyl have surged in recent years.
Live Music. People today are also listening to more music than ever and the live gig scene is meeting a growing demand, maybe in part because at a live performance we are able to hear the full rich dynamic range of sound - from the deepest bass to the highest vocal detail.

By comparison the drawback with the compressed MP3 sound that most of us travel with, is that we only get to hear about 5% of the sound. The problem is that producers yank up the sound to full blast, so that when we listen to recorded music on the MP3 format it becomes distorted to our ears.

Often it makes me long for the quality richness and depth of a full orchestra - with the violins at the front and the brass and percussion behind. I had the wonderful pleasure of this in January at the City halls when the Scottish Chamber Orchestra played with Cara Dillon’s beautiful voice. The sound was cinematic and blew your senses away.    

The Big Question. Is the music industry shrinking as a whole while the demand for live gigs are flourishing - and as the demand for music for games, apps, movies and tv productions continues to grow too.

New artists these days have to build a base online – and then decide do they take that on to a label or stay independent?  Good management is essential. When is an artist ready and are they good enough? I have seen several young talent in recent years get picked up and signed by the industry and then sidelined and no one can afford to take chances these days. The BBC Sound of the year makes its predictions.  

My son, who is a musician, remarked at a large stadium gig for one of the old-time rockers holding thousands, how hard it was for young musicians these days to fill those large stadiums with the older demographic top heavy audiences.  
 For the future we need the new life blood of the younger generation. Our older heads offer experience but the young bring their fresh outlook and energy and enthusiasms. I'd like to see more older artists work with and encourage new talents.   
 As song copyright gets extended to 75 years, we have to wonder why and no other art form has such an extended copyright. A songwriter and his children can now live for decades off a successful composers work (example Schumann). It means the Labels can live off their Song Back Catalogues - which means they don't need new artists. And while outfits like iTunes gives nothing back to the artists or to music..  

Friday, 1 November 2013

Piper Finlay MacDonald and Shetland fiddler Chris Stout

Shetland Fiddler Chris Stout
Piper Finlay MacDonald

Piper Finlay MacDonald and Shetland fiddler Chris Stout played a blistering fun set at the opening concert for the 20th celebration night at Celtic Connections 2013 concert hall Glasgow.