Review: Ruts DC – O2 Academy Oxford – February 18th, 2019

My first time for a gig at Oxford – and at this particular venue. The venue is pretty small…would maybe hold 750 tops. I like these size venues though, esp. for GA standing gigs.

The support act was The Professionals, with drummer (and Sex Pistols legend) Paul Cook the only existing original member of the lineup. I didn’t really look up the support act before the gig, so it was somewhat of a surprise when my friend and companion for the gig said that Cookie was playing as part of the support act. I’m getting my quota of drumming legends in these days!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

And as I didn’t know the support act that well, I didn’t know much of the material performed, although of course Silly Thing sounded familiar to me when it started. I think if I have things right they also performed Just Another Dream and Join The Professionals. Pretty sure they also performed I Didn’t See It Coming, and probably did 1-2-3 as well. It was a fast pace set as you would expect from a punk outfit. Short, punchy songs. Lots of energy. I enjoyed their set. Sound level was loud. My ears were stuffed before the Ruts even came on!

230841FA-F60E-42D6-87D4-D0D161A6402A

And as for The Ruts? Well, we were given the full theatrical intro for what is a 40th anniversary tour of their debut album, The Crack. With a backdrop of a huge canvas print of the album’s artwork, they played the whole album in tracklist order, starting with their biggest hit, Babylon’s Burning – which I filmed.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

And of course, they just got tighter and tighter through the set. Segs seems like he should have been the frontman all along to me. No disrespect to Malcolm Owen intended at all, just me wanting to give credit to Segs. He’s fab and just takes it in his stride. They found an absolute gem of a guitarist in Leigh and, speaking as I did earlier of drumming legends…hell! For me, Dave Ruffy is right up there as one of the best drummers around. Sublime effortlessness.

2491B419-3FF3-4CD5-A575-7C845945CCFB

The setlist is pictured above. Nearly 24 hours later, and my ears are STILL ringing. If you’ve never seen them live and you like this genre of music (punk/ska/rock/pub rock), get along to one of their gigs. You won’t be disappointed. Honestly, they really are one of the best live bands going round right now. They never disappoint, and last night was no exception.

Priptona Talks – To Jaine Henderson: Part Two

Here is part two of my interview with Jaine Henderson.

Sometimes things were not without some bizarre set of dangers, like the time Jaine found herself a hair’s breadth away from being jailed for “possession of a concealed weapon”.

Lights would fuse. Wires would fray. Things needed repairing on the spot and the easiest way for Jaine to repair things was to carry a flick knife. It was easy to keep in her pocket and meant she wasn’t having to carry a bunch of screwdrivers and other tools that couldn’t be as easily carried around as a single flick knife. The flick knife could cover nearly all aspects of repair work.

At one gig, the manager of the venue was unsettled by this finding. “He was not happy that I was carrying a flick knife, despite me reassuring him it was purely for repair work purposes. Seemingly feeling unnerved, the manager asked me for the knife and I gave it to him. Later that evening, the manager walked past me and placed the knife in my jacket pocket. The next thing there are two police officers approaching me, preparing to arrest me for ‘possession of a concealed weapon’. I had to plead my innocence. Tell them that the knife was only for work. That I was a lighting technician and used it purely and only for lighting repair work. I was carrying my passport with me so I could show them who I was. Had I not had my passport with me, they’d have charged me on the spot and I would have spent the night in a police cell. As it was, I was instructed to go to the local police station the following morning. I was then formally charged and summoned to court.”

The case was quashed. Jaine had eyewitnesses to say that the manager had returned the knife to her moments before the police arrived. That there were no threats made to use the knife in any other way than for the lighting repair work. The police retracted their statements which suggested that Jaine had made a threat to use the knife on someone. The judge threw the case out and the charge was dropped.

The Real To Real Cacophony tour saw the band travel over the North Sea and tour mainland Europe for the first time. Starting out in Germany at Kant Kino. The first leg of the tour towards the end of 1979 travelled through Germany and into Belgium before the band take a plane across the Atlantic for what is now a visual landmark bit of history, when Simple Minds perform at the Hurrah’s Club in New York and are recorded for a feature on The Old Grey Whistle Test.

The tour continues in Europe with dates in Sweden and Denmark before the band return to the UK for dates across the country.

img_0374-2

Jaine and David Henderson at Jaine’s lighting desk, circa 1979. Photo by Carole Moss.

Midway through the Real To Real Cacophony tour, David left being the sound engineer with Simple Minds and shortly after sets up the Hellfire Club with Jacqueline Bradley. It was an important venue for aspiring new local bands providing much needed rehearsal and recording space in Glasgow’s West End. It was many a fledgling band’s first exposure to recording and production in studio space.

Jaine left the lighting tech role with Simple Minds on the eve of the Empires And Dance tour that set off to continental Europe at the end of August, 1980. It was the band’s most extensive European tour to that date, scoring the coup of being the support for Peter Gabriel.

A natural creative flow in which an emotional connection for a band and its musical style caused a change an artistic direction for Jaine. A short lighting tech gig after her departure with Simple Minds was the turning point. “Bruce [Findlay] had got me a lighting job for a band that I didn’t really know. It was a short tour down the south of the country. I was travelling in a van with a band I didn’t really know with material I wasn’t familiar with and it felt really odd. That was when I decided that I didn’t really want to continue with the lighting tech jobs. I certainly felt uncomfortable at the prospect of working freelance.”

Jaine then started helping David and Jacquie out at the Hellfire Club. One of the bands to rehearse and record demos at the venue was The Dreamboys, a post-punk band consisting of members that included Twelfth Doctor, Peter Capaldi, and “TV’s” Craig Ferguson – mercurial comedian and host of late night U.S. talk show The Late Late Show before James Corden took over the role in 2015. Jaine became The Dreamboys manager but the band were short lived, splitting up as Capaldi got more acting work. The final death knell for the band being Capaldi landing a role in the film Local Hero.

img_0373-2

Pictured L-R: Laura Mazzolini (Sophisticated Boom Boom), Jim McKinven (Altered Images) Jacqueline Bradley, Scott McArthur (Graffiti record store and JATSA band manager), Peter Capaldi, David Henderson, Temple Clark, Craig Ferguson (Capaldi, Clark and Ferguson all members of The Dreamboys). Photo by Roddy Murray.

Jaine then worked for a time at the Citizens Theatre in Glasgow in the promotions department. Hearing this had me asking her the question I had posed to Jim several times but never got a response for. Semi Monde, the Noel Coward play, made its theatrical debut at the Citizens in 1977. I had to ask whether she knew if Jim had seen it and if it was the inspiration for the line in Sons And Fascination (this has always intrigued me). She couldn’t say whether Jim had seen the play, but she had been lucky enough to see it herself. “I saw quite a few shows there. My parents would take me to see shows there when I was younger, so when the opportunity arose to work there, I was really excited at the prospect. I really enjoyed my time there. It was hard work, but it was great.”

Working at the Citizens lead on to working for Raindog, the theatre company started by actors Robert Carlyle and Alexander Morton. The name of the company struck initial interest for Jaine. “I am a huge Tom Waits fan, so I asked Bobby (Carlyle) about the name, wondering if he was also a Tom Waits fan.”

Early on during our conversation, Jaine interviewed me as much as I interviewed her. It was a great ice-breaker. These things can be nerve-wracking for both parties. Me, under the pressure of keeping an air of professionalism, but hoping for a smooth and relaxed flow of conversation; Jaine, perhaps apprehensive about sharing certain things and feeling trepidation over questions I may ask, being understandably guarded, living a life in relative obscurity.

We talked about our school experiences. Me relaying my leaving school at a very young age due to bullying. Younger than Jaine herself was at sixteen. By that time she was wary of academia. Her mother, a teacher, was Jaine’s own teacher during her final two years of school. Something one can only imagine is wrought with its own unique set of problems. We shared a common leveller, so to speak, with a common kind of circumstance, but with a different view of pursuit.

I left school early because of the bullying, but felt cheated that I was taken away from the education I craved. I wanted to continue study and I had academic pursuits in mind. My mind, I felt back then, was not the mind of a creative or artistic person. I loved science, mathematics and history. That’s where I wanted my future to be. Jaine didn’t feel the need to pursue higher education. She was good at English and could have followed artistic pursuits at a higher education level, but preferred to leave school and get on with getting out there and living it.

And she made a life for herself getting out there and doing it. One that saw her involved in the arts in one form or another throughout her life.

Asking Jaine of her memories of the tours I asked if she had any favourite gigs from her time as lighting tech. “Les Bains Douche in Paris. I love Paris, and this particular venue was really trendy and arty. It had sunken baths in it or something like that.” (In fact it seems to have been a multi-functioning venue – concert hall, discotheque, restaurant and bar with an in-ground swimming pool as its main focal point). “It was an amazing place to play in. Also Kant Kino in Berlin was very cool.”

My final question to Jaine was “what are your favourite Simple Minds songs of the period?”
“Someone Somewhere In Summertime is one. I really like that. Of the earlier stuff? There’s one called [In Your] Room that’s really good. These two are my particular favourites.”

My thanks to Jaine for affording me the time for the interview. Her time was greatly appreciated.

The final words I shall leave to Jim. What follows is an extract of a post from Simple Minds Official Facebook page in which Jim talks of Jaine on what had been a recent visit to Sicily, highlighting the intrinsic role Jaine (along with others) played for the early Simple Minds.

“They say that ‘No man is an island.’ I would add to that ‘No band is an island’. And what I mean is that for Simple Minds to happen, it took more than just a bunch of musicians (no matter how talented) getting in a room together. That in my view is often the end product.

The real beginning for any artist is the scene that you grow out of. The people you hung out with. Those who influenced, unknowingly of course, turning you on to all manner of new stuff. Could be music, films, theatre, fashion, books. You name it? In doing so they all help create the landscape that gives birth to your own imagination. And at the end of the day creativity is largely all about imagination, and how much of it that you really have?

All I can tell you now is that Simple Minds owe a ton of our success to all the other Glasgow kids that we hung out with back in the day. They all helped set our imagination on fire. That fire still burns and their influence is very much still a part of us.”

Review: John Grant – Cambridge Corn Exchange – Feb 7th, 2019

Again, support was from E.B. The Younger, performing tracks from his upcoming release, To Each His Own. Songs performed included lead single from the album, Used To Be. Also performed were Out Of The Woods, On An Island, and Don’t Forget Me.

The harmonies that Pulido and Creamer have together are rather wonderful. Pulido says on his website that Harry Nilsson is a major musical influence, and it is certainly evident in Pulido’s own sound.

I will give the album a few listens on release, and will probably invest in a copy. I have enjoyed watching both of his performances. Below is a clip of him and Dan performing When The Time Comes. Also captured is Pulido’s banter and engagement with the crowd. He likes a natter, and that’s a cool thing in my eyes.

Once again, the crew went quickly into action to have John out on stage promptly at 8.45pm.

The first thing I have to say about the venue, Cambridge Corn Exchange, is it has great acoustics! And whoever is doing JGs sound gets it absolutely spot on, no matter what venue he’s at. Outdoors at festivals, indoors in mid-sized capacity theatres, or in more intimate places like Union Chapel in London – I am always impressed by the sound quality and volume.

The lighting on this tour has also been superb.

The show started with (possibly my favourite track on Love Is Magic – I grapple with either this or Metamorphosis being my fave track on the album) Tempest. Again, we were treated to all bar the complete Love Is Magic album (the only track off the album not performed was The Common Snipe), interspersed with tracks from his previous three albums. Tracks included Grey Tickles, Black Pressure – Pale Green Ghosts – Sensitive New Age Guy – Global Warming – Glacier – Sigourney Weaver – Fireflies – Outer Space – JC Hates Faggots – Queen Of Denmark – Black Belt – GMF – and the most beautiful version of TC And Honeybear…I was in a flood of tears. I find it just the most heart-wrenching beautiful song.

It’s an extensive set and was much appreciated by the crowd in Cambridge. And John was feeling the love too. I thought Glasgow was amazing last week, but everything was just somehow taken up a notch again at Cambridge.

I could watch John perform every single night for the rest of my life and be in raptures. He’s both funny and humble, can take the piss out of himself, throw shapes about the stage and look like a dancefloor mega god, and then sit at his keyboard and deliver songs with such elegance and poignancy. The man is absolutely amazing.

Review: John Grant at Celtic Connections – King’s Theatre, Glasgow – Feb 1st, 2019

Support was by E.B. the Younger – the moniker of Midlake vocalist Eric Pulido, soon to release his solo debut. Now THERE’S the connection – John, of course, working with Midlake for his Queen Of Denmark debut.

Eric was joined on stage by keyboardist Dan. The pair of them have great vocal harmonies. He performed songs from his new album set for release in early March.

His music is quite easy going and he established a good rapport with the audience and was even piggybacked off stage by Dan at the end of the set. I look forward to seeing him again on Thursday night.

The stage crew set to work very quickly to get things set up for John. Only a short break was endured before he arrived on stage with regular, established band members, including the incomparable Budgie on drums. The more I watch him, the more I fall in love with his style and realise what a truly incredible drummer he is.

All was flowing well. I have to confess, once inside the King’s, it did seem a little strange a venue for what is essentially a rock gig but the crowd were into it and we were enjoying ourselves.

About the fifth song in they started to play album opener, Metamorphosis, and there was a technical problem. The song was halted, crew rushed on stage to sort it out, and while the problem was being rectified, John sat is his still fully functioning (and unaffected by the fault) keyboard to perform TC And Honeybear – which is just the most stunning and beautiful song. I wasn’t expecting him to perform too many of his older tunes, so it was a real treat. Was almost thankful for the technical hiccup!

By the time TC And Honeybear was through, the problem had been sorted and off we went with Metamorphosis again.

Others in the set included Preppy Boy, Smug Cunt, He’s Got His Mother’s Hips, Tempest, Love Is Magic, Is He Strange, Touch And Go – pretty much the whole album bar The Common Snipe (at least I think he did Diet Gum as well).

Those in the set not on Love Is Magic performed were Grey Tickles-Black Pressure, Pale Green Ghosts, Global Warming, Queen Of Denmark, JC Hates Faggots, Sensitive New Age Guy, GMF, Black Belt, Glacier, Fireflies, Caramel and Sigourney Weaver.

The surprise…or perhaps disappointment…of the night was that he DIDN’T perform Marz! I was okay with that, but I’m sure other fans would have been disappointed. If they were, it didn’t show in the crowd’s reception. Standing ovations towards the end of the set and after every song performed as an encore.

The crowd loved it. You could feel it. And apart from the technical fault at the start of Metamorphosis, the acoustics and sound levels were great.

I get taken to another place at a JG gig. I just lose myself, esp. on the more emotional tracks. Glacier was beautiful and epic, as was Queen Of Denmark. And…Budgie has me in awe. I love that man!

Top class, as always. I don’t think JG could ever do a shit gig. Well, I’ve never seen one.

Bring on Thursday and Cambridge!

Review: The Bard’s Tale IV – Royal Concert Hall, Glasgow – January 31st, 2019

I wasn’t sure when the gig was meant to start, despite a 7.30pm time on the FB page. There was a support act which I sadly missed.

I also missed the opportunity to get a good photo, at least to show where I was sitting – but it’s all about the music, right?

And, well…what music! Ged walked out on stage looking rather dapper in a nice tartan suit and gave us a little intro and background to how The Bard’s Tale IV soundtrack came about and how he got to be involved in it.

A few minutes later the gig was under way. There was a large screen projecting video montages of the game and its landscape. Some eight Gaelic singers were involved, including the angelic voiced Eilidh Cormack and Kim Carnie, Fiona Hunter and Kathleen MacInnes – male voices too, Gregor Philp and it was fabulous to see young Donald Barker providing male Gaelic vocals and featuring as the main vocalist on one song. Wonderful harmonies from all the singers when group vocals took place.

Beautiful musically. Wonderful melodies and traditional instruments used. Harp, bodhran, harmonium, low whistle, pipes as well on some tunes.

In between tunes were spoken passages delivered by “The Bard” himself, the actor who provides the protagonists voice in the game, John Buick. At one point he was to deliver a drunken rant about how, although there had been a battle won, there was one deserter in the pack…and that role for Mr Buick (as a focal point) fell to me. I suppose that is what one gets when they sit in the front row! It made for an interesting bit of theatre, esp. for yours truly! It was both thrilling and a little unnerving, but fun.

73EC8244-64E1-4467-BF90-0729F08A5CBB

The tunes have depth of emotion as you would imagine from such a beautiful language – so harmonious. Poignancy, joy – not all the tunes are ballads, and not every song is in Gaelic. Gregor Philp performed songs in English – Snow In Summer and Across The Seven Realms – as did Fiona Hunter – A Hardworking Hand. But to hear the sounds of traditional folk music and Gaelic language vocals was a very moving experience. And you don’t need to understand the language to be moved by it and be swept up in…to sense its emotion and get an understanding of its heart and joy.

2C534659-390E-461B-99B8-995F8369E967

The show as a whole flowed really well. Sometimes the bits of video footage from the game could be a distraction, but the screen was not used constantly. The main point of the concert was to deliver the music and have that come across…the importance of the Gaelic language and how intrinsic it should be in Scottish culture. Something that needs to be retained for fear of it becoming lost for good.

The musicianship on display on Thursday night was incredible. And such amazing talent from all involved. Ged should be full to bursting with pride of the show he put on on Thursday night. It was a wonderful experience, as I’d had every belief it would be from the moment I bought my ticket.

Photo one by Lily Warring.

Other photos by Gordon Machray.

Review: Loudon Wainwright III at Celtic Connections – Royal Concert Hall, Glasgow – Jan 30th 2019

I had been lucky enough to get myself a free ticket to see a recording of The Afternoon Show on BBC Radio Scotland yesterday morning. I knew Grant Stott would be presenting the show, and there would most likely be live music, but that was all I knew.

The Cottiers was packed out for the show. We all got seated and some of the musicians entered the room ready to start recording. I see this guy enter the room and I think “Geez, that bloke looks like Loudon Wainwright III – OMG… is it?!”

Yep! It was. I was chuffed! I had wanted to see him for years. I mean I am by no means a huge fan of folk music… not much of a fan at all, really. There are some exceptions, but generally, I don’t go out of my way to seek it out. LWIII is one of those exceptions I have always found him humorous and fun.

He was so great at the Afternoon Show, that as soon as it wrapped up and we were done, I walked down to the Royal Concert Hall and grabbed a ticket for the gig.

His support act, Karen Casey, had also performed on the Afternoon Show and I enjoyed her too.

She was great last night as well. She’s got wonderful talented musicians playing with her and she has a wonderful voice. She chatted a bit between songs and shared funny anecdotes. I enjoyed her set.

There was a lot of love in the room for LWIII as he walked on stage.

Funny from the get go. He spoke of his father. A fractuous relationship he had with him. His dad was a renowned writer for Time magazine. He shared some extracts of columns that his father wrote for Time. He told us that through the passage of time, after his dad’s death in 1988, he got to know him better and understand him better.

I can’t remember all the songs he did. I am not familiar with their titles, so they didn’t stick in the memory. But the ones I do remember from last night that he performed – Meet The Wainwrights – a theme for a show he did in which he, Rufus, his partner and their daughter Lucy toured Alaska with fans for a five date tour with the family – he had fun anecdotes to share about all that too. Five Years Old – a song he wrote about missing Martha’s 5th birthday.

One I recorded called “It Ain’t Gaza” – I will post it when I get home. Just a great thing about… if you think things are shit to just put it in some perspective.

It was a great show. I’d love to see him again. Funny, a little sad now and then and thought-provoking too. I’m so glad I went.

Review: Massive Attack – SSE Hydro, Glasgow – Jan 28th, 2019

First gig of the year could not have been more epic and compelling.

Due on stage at 8.30pm but fashionably late – the lights in the Hydro switched off about 8.45. The crowd went nuts… but they made us wait just a bit longer.

Incredible from the get go. You’d have thought someone just put the CD on over the speaker system… but no. Apart from some parts (loops, etc) that I assume are a backing track… it was all live. Two drummers! Love it!

Horace Andy performed tracks. And for a 67 year old man, he’s sounding great and still got the moves.

Several songs in, and out comes the Indie/New Wave Queen of Grangemouth… ladies and gentlemen, Ms Elizabeth Frazer. Of course she got a huge, rapturous welcome.

She performed Black Milk and the crowd went nuts after.

I’m not overly familiar with Mezzanine as an album… but they were performing tracks in a mixed up order.

A small pause after about 75 minutes on stage, and back they come with Horace Andy to perform a stonking version of Angel. And then the roof gets blown off the Hydro as Liz comes back out on stage and the opening chords to Teardrop start.

I’ve never heard a reaction like it after the song was done. I’m surprised it wasn’t a standing ovation, frankly.

A stunning gig. Great visuals. Some not easy to take. Text on screen. Thought-provoking messages. Almost like being at a live Adam Curtis screening.

I loved every second of it. And I definitely want to see them again.

I was a bit of the way up, so I don’t have the best pics, but here are a couple. I grabbed video footage of Angel but will have to share that when I’m back home, I think.

What an opener to the year!