Friday, 3 January 2014

Kid Canaveral and Edwyn Collins

Kid Canaveral's Christmas Baubles IV

In September Mandy got two tickets to the fourth Kid Canaveral's Christmas Baubles event on the 14th December 2013.

Details here:

This time the headline act was Edwyn Collins, ex Orange Juice front-man, probably best known for his post Orange Juice hit "A Girl Like You". Nostalgists click here:

So the tickets were put away safely, but as the date approached there was a cloud on the horizon - Mandy's Mum Ivy was going through a tough time in and out of hospital, and Mandy was spending a lot of time down in South London. The week before the gig, it looked like Ivy was not going to make it through Christmas, so Mandy had to abandon her ticket and fly south again for 10 days.

Fortunately Ivy did improve, and is now in a nursing home, but this meant that Duncan was drafted in to use the spare ticket on the 14th Dec.

The day kicked off at 14:30 in Portobello Town Hall, a lovely little venue down by the seaside (opened in 1914) that holds about 550-600 people.

Porty Town Hall
There was a make-shift bar at the back, under the balcony, selling yer basic cans of various beers, and a couple of long tables opposite selling various pastries from the local bakers Fisher and Donaldson.

First act on was Siobhan Wilson from Glasgow. Unexpectedly good writing and a some haunting songs. Well worth a listen here:
Siobhan Wilson
Next up was Rozi Plain,originally from Winchester. She was skilfully backed by some members of the band EagleOwl. Rozi was quirky, very entertaining and again some really good song-writing. Example here:
This Many Boyfriends
Leeds indie band This Many Boyfriends were on next. A kinda punk-pop outfit, they cranked things up and added a happy burst of adrenaline. They definitely have potential, but their set was marred by poor sound. Need to review some of their material on-line for a better review I think.

Last in the pre-break set was The Pictish Trail. Johnny Lynch is the man who runs Lost Map Records (co-host of the Xmas Baubles IV event along with Kid Canaveral) and performs under the pseudonym The Pictish Trail. On this occasion he was backed by the heavy-metal band Massacre Cave (named after the geological feature on the island of Eigg). The combination of Johnny's songs and the quality of Massacre Cave's backing was really excellent - they sounded like they'd all been playing together for years.
Pictish Trail
Johnny, still wearing his Lost Map Records bobble hat, finished up his set with a hilarious solo version of the popular Christmas carol, Little Donkey. Sadly no web footage appears to exist thus far :-)

There was a 75 minute break for beer and some food, so braving the winter stormy weather, headed out to the local fast fooderies for a pizza, grabbed a beer on the way back (Duncan was asked for ID - lol) and settled into our seats for part 2 of Christmas Baubles IV.

Kicking off part 2 was Glasgow three-piece Tuff Love. New to us both, they were quite impressive and started things off nicely.
Tuff Love
Next up was newly reformed De Rosa. Originally from Bellshill, De Rosa released a couple of albums in 2006-2009 before breaking up in mid 2009. They recently re-formed and this was their first outing in a long time. It didn't show though, they were slick and well rehearsed. Though Martin Henry did say at one point "F*ck I'm getting to old for this. Is there anyone else out there who's baldy, bearded and wears glasses?" to which a large proportion of the audience, who were probably ages with Edwyn Collins, cheered and put their hands up!
De Rosa
Co-hosts Kid Canaveral were on next and they were GREAT. Originally St Andrews based, they now hail from Edinburgh and have been hosting the Christmas Baubles events for four years in various venues around Scotland.
The Kids
They were a joy to watch and listen to. David MacGregor is the ideal front man and lead vocalist, keeping the crowd going in between songs, hitting all the right notes and cranking out some lovely rhythm and lead guitar. Kate Lazda on backing (and sometimes lead) vocals is the guitar-riff-queen for almost all the tracks. I think the dancing started about track two of their set. Tracks which were particularly good were: the Wrench, You Only Went Out To Get Drunk Last Night, And Another Thing!! and many more. The audience were well pleased. The Cairn String Quartet joined them for the next track “This is our Christmas song,” David MacGregor explained, apparently getting into the seasonal spirit before saying “It’s not really a Christmas song. It’s about how sh*te it is to be Scottish between the months of September and March.” The track was Low Winter Sun. With the Cairn String Quartet the song sounded really full, and with their backing on several other tracks they added a real depth to the KC set list. They're on the right in the picture below.
(Duncan and Scott can be seen in the picture above - edge of the left-hand balcony just above the stage)
Finally, after extensive stage resetting, it was time for Mr Edwyn Collins. His band came on, and plugged in, checking monitors and levels, then The Man himself. Walking with a cane he gingerly made his way to an amp placed middle stage and sat down on it, to massive cheers from the crowd. This next bit is unashamedly plagiarised from the gig review in the Independent. "It becomes impossible, as the concert goes on, to separate an appraisal of Edwyn Collins’ performance from the sheer emotional weight of seeing him before us. Eight years ago, as has been well documented, the sometime singer of arch ‘80s Glasgow indie-pop group Orange Juice very nearly died following two brain haemorrhages and an infection picked up during his treatment. Now the fact that what he’s been through is still apparent in his demeanour only adds to the joy. His speech and movements are hesitant, and he walks with a cane, but he performs with a smile on his face and his signature baritone is as rich and sonorous as ever."

Perched on his amp-come-seat, he opened with versions of Orange Juice’s Falling and Laughing and the sax-laden What Presence?!, before guiding us on a tour through the easy-crooned jangle of his mid-career solo years, from the ‘90s’ Make Me Feel Again to the recent 31 Years. “All of these are goodies, yes?” he enquired at one point. That the answer was from the audience was "Yes!" and when he and his excellent band moved onto Rip It Up, A Girl Like You and Blue Boy the Portobello Town Hall balcony emptied and everyone was down on the dance floor giving it their all.

Edwyn and band
The Baubles IV finished at about 12:30am and the crowd left in high spirits. 

“Christmas Baubles started because we wanted to have a Christmas party and get lots of bands we liked to play,” says Kid Kate Lazda. “Luckily everyone who came along seemed to enjoy it too. Even after the first year it immediately seemed like something that almost had to happen every Christmas from then on. We’re keen to stick to the original concept – a relaxed party in our home town, and hopefully a celebratory end to a successful year. It’s the one thing that people ask us about all year round, I don’t think there’s any way we could not do it now.”

(Some pictures courtesy of manicpopthrills, Stephanie Gibson and Darren Carle)

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

Deacon Blue

Stirling Castle - Dec 31st 2013

Well the weather was supposed to be dire, but we had a lovely pre-celebration curry at Fiona and Mick's, then wrapped up warm and headed up the hill to Stirling Castle for the Hogmanay 2013 celebrations:

And because it was a wee bit chilly, and there are a few pubs on the way, we missed the first act, local Stirling band Rail Fan, but did we care? Not very much :-)
In fact the weather was getting better - clear skies and not too windy - ideal for jigging on the esplanade and watching fireworks!

So we got there in time for Bags of Rock who were quite entertaining..

Bags of Rock - Scottish Death Metal
..but in the words of local music critic Duncan Wilson they were "pure Scottish Death Metal" and all the songs sounded remarkably similar. No matter, they were loud, the crowd were dancing and clapping and we had our hip flasks.

Kirsten had home-made alco-pops inside her jacket as she is not really a whisky drinker (you could tell by the funny faces she pulled after every swig from the offered hip flasks).

So, with eager anticipation we awaited the arrival of the headliners - Deacon Blue..

We didn't have too long to wait, as bounding onto the stage came part-time sports pundit and part-time drummer Dougie Vipond, and closely followed by the rest of the band.

I have to admit this picture is from T in the Park, not Stirling Castle but it kinda conveys the spirit of the event, though I suspect Lorraine McIntosh would not have lasted long dressed like that! Unfortunately my phone camera picture looks more like this below, mostly woolly hats:

They stormed on stage and went quickly into the first song and do you know, for the life of me I cannot remember which track they played first (hip-flask half empty by this point), but it went something like this:

"Chocolate Girl", "Real Gone Kid", "Wages Day", "Every Time You Sleep", "Love and Regret" and "The Hipsters".

The sound was really good, Lorraine sang in tune and they did a really great set.

It was just about 13 mins before midnight and suddenly Ricky Ross shouted "You've been great - thanks and goodbye". Everyone clapped and cheered fully expecting the obligatory encore to take us up to the bells, but no, instead the annoying man in the red tartan suit, Steve McKenna, was back on stage and doing some silly crowd sing-a-long numbers. WTF!

He finally introduced the next (and apparently final) act - it was Dougie Maclean to give us his patriotic song Caledonia.

"Ah but let me tell you that I love you and I think about you all the time
Caledonia you're calling me and now I'm going home
But if I should become a stranger you know that it would make me more than sad
Caledonia's been everything I've ever had"

Those people that knew the words were singing along and at one point even I felt compelled to vote YES for independence :-), but suddenly it was over and the crowd dried their patriotic tears. All the previous acts came on stage (except Deacon Blue) and we awaited the countdown to midnight....5, 4, 3, 2, 1 HAPPY NEW YEAR!!! We all shook hands and/or kissed.

The fireworks kicked off and they were impressive, not overdone like the Princes Street ones, just right.

Ah hell, but the annoying man in the red tartan suit was back, and what's this he's saying?

"Put your hands together for Deacon Blue" and there they were, returning to the stage for the long awaited encore! Woo hoo!

Immediately they went straight into "Queen of the New Year", followed by "Fergus Sings the Blues" - this was good driving rhythm stuff. Then they did "Dignity". The crowd were in good voice and managed a couple of unaccompanied verses on Dignity.

They wrapped it up with a stage bow and a big cheer from the crowd... and we headed to the pub again :-) before heading to Fiona and Mick's place for late night cheese and wines!

A lovely Hogmanay indeed.