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.