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.

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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.

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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.

Tripping Oot In Glasgow

Okay. I need to look to the good things I have coming up. Even though I am absolutely skint ta bloody fook (all of this stuff was arranged MONTHS ago with the optimistic viewpoint that I would have the funds now to manage it. NOPE!) – I have THREE gigs and one BBC Radio Scotland recording to go to. So, whilst being skint TF, I’ll be busy AF too.

I arrive in Glasgow on Monday morning, January 28th. Dunno what I’ll do through the day that day. Will probably get to the city centre around 11am – flight arriving to time, that is.

First gig on night one is Massive Attack at the Hydro. Never been a “HUGE” Massive Attack fan, as such…but have always loved what I’ve heard. Never seen them live. Never been to the Hydro – so, it’s going to be a new experience all round. Night one I stay at a hotel a short walking distance from the Hydro, to save myself the hassle of trying to get elsewhere within the city, and only needing to walk less than half a mile.

The 18 year old me would be ASTONISHED at what the 48 year old me will be doing in a couple of weeks time. Not only am I travelling to a city MILES away (approx. 370 of your finest imperial miles, in fact) but I am staying there – alone. Gigging – alone. Walking the streets of Glasgow – at night – ALONE.

I didn’t go to my first gig until I was 19 – a date with my new (and subsequently only) boyfriend. Every gig I had been to from there I was always with someone. Sheltered. Too scared to “live a little”. I never went to a single gig alone until 2017. And, funnily enough, it was in Glasgow. And, well, I walked the streets of Glasgow alone that night. And last year as well, when I was up there in January, taking part in a TV quiz. I’d gone to see a play the night before recording started – and had to walk through the city centre to get back to my hotel. So these days I very much try to live by the “life’s too short” philosophy and just stop trying to be a chicken shit. I am still a chicken shit about loads of things.

Anyway, I digress. The next day – I don’t have much planned. I’ll be staying up around the Finneston way for the rest of my stay in Glasgow. So I may just meander around Kelvingrove, The Hunterian, take another visit to the Mitchell Library and I want to check out the transport museum this time round too. THE CRAN! Got to check oot the Cran this time.

Wednesday I am going to a recording of The Afternoon Show at the Cottiers for Celtic Connections. There’ll be some free live music to enjoy, so that’ll be cool. It’s an early start for something called “the Afternoon Show” – admission to the recording starts at 9.30am for a 10am recording start time. I changed where I was staying, cos I was over the other end of the city staying somewhere else which was 4 miles away from the Cottiers so thought I’d better get my butt a bit closer. Had I been in better condition than I am currently, the notion of a four mile walk wouldn’t have worried me at all. And had it only been two miles away, I’d have stayed where I was, but there we go.

Thursday…nothing planned for the day, yet…but the evening is the Bard’s Tale concert. So I’ll need to be in the centre city and down by the Royal Concert Hall around 6pm.

Friday, a similar thing. Nothing planned for certain during the day, but the evening is the John Grant gig. And I am staying only a quarter of a mile from the venue, so, very handy.

Saturday – my flight leaves Glasgow at 3pm, so I won’t have a lot of time to do too much.

There’ll be a few people to catch up with through the week as well. And I wanted to take a look at areas of the city of interest for OTHER reasons. I may even sneak over to Edinburgh for a day as well. We’ll see.

So…it could turn out to be a jam packed week! And I really don’t want a cloud of negativity hanging over me during this week. No way. Despite being worried about the money situ…I can enjoy myself while being careful.

The Bard’s Tale – Live At Celtic Connections

The uber talented Ged Grimes had, very recently, not only been making music and playing with Simple Minds, but he had been busily composing music for a “video” game (in this day and age, do we still call them “video” games?) called The Bard’s Tale.

Sarah Brown interviewed (quizzed?) Ged on this event to do with it, as part of Celtic Connections.

It’s at the Royal Concert Hall in Glasgow on January 31st, 2019. Now…it just so happens that John Grant is playing in Glasgow the following night as part of Celtic Connections…and I already have a ticket, so I am thinking perhaps I should go up a day earlier and experience The Bard’s Tale live?

I’ve never been a big gamer and I can’t claim to be into The Bard’s Tale…but I have liked what I’ve heard of the music and it would certainly be an interesting experience to see it performed live…esp. as it sounds like it could be quite an interactive experience. I’ve got to say, I’m intrigued, and interested.

I will let Ged explain more (with the help of Ms Brown). Click here for ticketing details…

UPDATE: Ticket booked. Going! 👍🏻