Friday, 28 February 2014

The Pictish Trail


This was my first visit to the Chamber Street Museum in many a year, and what a venue for a music event! Had a bite to eat and a glass of wine in the basement brasserie and then it was up into the Grand Gallery to see the stage, wander around, get a beer.

Who happened to be on the stage but Mr Johnny Lynch (aka The Pictish Trail), in his Lost Map Records bobble hat, keeping track of his Twitter feed no doubt, and sharing a joke with the drummer Peter Colquhoun from his backing band for the night, Massacre Cave. However they strolled off for a beer having just completed their sound-check.

Radio 1's Vic Galloway was the compère for the evening, and the schedule for the evening was published as:
19:00 Fresh Air DJs
19:30 Ice, Ice Baby
20:00 Ice, Ice Baby
20:30 Marnie Live DJ set
21:20 Ice, Ice Baby
21:30 The Pictish Trail Live

As it was just after 19:00 we were treated to a nice ambient sounding set from one of the Edinburgh’s student radio station DJs, but it wasn't riveting stuff so we went off to explore the Museum and the Mammoth exhibition. This was the view from the 3rd foor balcony. 

As I mentioned - what a venue! 
Anyway the exhibition was fun, face-painting, cardboard mammoth hats, and lots to see. The two temporary bars were doing a roaring trade, and despite the prices we had a couple or three beers. The crowd on the Grand Gallery (stage) level began to build and suddenly we found out what "Ice, Ice Baby" was as listed on the program - a bunch of cavemen, cavewomen and some 50s style lassies began a flash-mob dance to Vanilla Ice's Ice, Ice Baby. All quite entertaining.

Next was another DJ set, this time from Helen Marnie ex Ladytron, and this was a much better set, well much more to my taste. She really got the crowd dancing.
After another obligatory Flash-mob outing, we prepared for the Pictish Trail. Vic Galloway did the big build up and on came Johnny Lynch with his backing band Massacre Cave (a heavy metal outfit from Eigg). 
The view from the stage level

 Views from the 1st floor balcony
They played (in no particular order): Of Course You Exist, Winter Home Disco, The Wolf Is On The Hill, The Handstand Crowd, Michael Rocket, Long In The Tooth, Wait Until and Words Fail Me Now.
Despite their heavy metal leanings, Massacre Cave did Johnny proud. Really excellent band - such a tight outfit - they added depth (and volume) to every song. 
Really enjoyable gig, marred only by some slightly echoey sound, which I guess was down to the marble lined Grand Gallery of Chamber Street Museum. Still it was a visually amazing and well run event. 

Friday, 21 February 2014

Cairn String Quartet and guests

Platform in Easterhouse, Glasgow on February 21st 2014

In early March, the city of Austin Texas hosts the 28th "South by South West" Music festival [ and history:

The Cairn String Quartet will be there! 
"To my knowledge there's no record of a Scottish classical act being chosen to play at South by South West, so it's very exciting," said Annemarie McGahon, founder and violist of the Cairn String Quartet.

However to get there, the girls needed some travel cash, and enlisted the help of some friends for a spectacular SxSW fundraiser at at Platform ( in Easterhouse, Glasgow on February 21st

Cairn String Quartet were joined by members of:
  • Errorsa three piece "post-electro" band from Glasgow. They are signed to Rock Action Records, the label founded and managed by the band Mogwai.
  • The Twilight Sad - are an indie rock band from Kilsyth, comprising James Graham (vocals), Andy MacFarlane (guitar), and Mark Devine (drums). The band are currently signed to Fat Cat Records 
  • Aidan Moffat - best known for his work with Malcolm Middleton in Arab Strap. 
  • Emma Pollock - Emma Pollock is a Scottish singer, songwriter, and guitarist, and a founding member of The Delgados 
  • Aaron Wright - A singer songwriter from Edinburgh. Following the success of his first EP ‘Behold A Pale Horse’ Aaron released his debut album on 7th March 2013. 
  • Call to Mind - from the Scottish Highlands, near Inverness (Ardersier), but spend most of their time in Glasgow. Debut LP, 'The Winter Is White', due out on 14 April 2014 through Olive Grove Records 
  • Francis Macdonald - the drummer and sometime member of British alternative rock band Teenage Fanclub. He has also played with BMX Bandits and Eugenius 
  • Kid Canaveral - see previous Blog posts 
  • Lou Hickey - Lou Hickey is a singer-songwriter from Neilston near Glasgow, Scotland. Debut album ‘True Love Ways’ released May 2013
  • RM Hubbertcommonly known as Hubby, is a Scottish guitarist and singer. Best known for his solo work as RM Hubbert and as a member of Scottish post rock band El Hombre Trajeado 
  • Gasp - is a Glaswegian Hip Hop MC/wordsmith 
  • Hector Bizerk - is an experimental hip-hop group from Scotland comprising drummer Audrey Tait and rapper John Louie. Louie was the man in attendance on this occasion. 
  • Stanley Odd - is an alternative hip-hop group based in Scotland combining live instrumentation with samples and loops - Solareye was the man for this gig.
So it all kicked off a little later than advertised, but the venue was good - a place called Platform. Part of a community resource in Easterhouse with a library, exhibition space, leisure centre and theatre. The theatre itself was like a plush lecture hall and we got comfy seats right down the front. 
First up, the Cairn Quartet eased us into the evening with some of their own compositions, and a couple of arrangements of popular tunes.
Next they were joined by Emma Pollock (ex of the Delgados) who performed a couple of her own recent compositions backed by the CSQ - fine voice.
Picture courtesy of 7aheadmusic
Next RM Hubbert joined them and added his excellent acoustic guitar to a couple of tracks he and Emma had composed.

Next up was Aidan Moffat, his voice instantly recognisable as that on many of an Arab Strap track. Mostly spoken rather than sung, but very atmospheric.
Picture courtesy of 7aheadmusic

Then it was the turn of late line-up addition Aaron Wright. He played just one track - "Middle Ground" with the CSQ backing and sounded really good. If you get a chance to see this guy - do it!
Picture courtesy of 7aheadmusic
Short interval, beer and toilet visits, and next to take the stage were Call to Mind, full band, mostly acoustic set - just did a couple of numbers unfortunately, as they were good too. Check out their EP HERE

Next we had David MacGregor of Kid Canaveral, strolled in, plugged in his guitar and performed a beautiful version of So Sad, So Young with CSQ backing - really excellent, but that was it - just one song.

Next was Francis Macdonald, who has been composing film scores recently, since his days drumming for Teenage Fanclub. He treated us to a couple of beautiful ambient film-score tracks with CSQ string accompanying.
Picture courtesy of 7aheadmusic

Next was Lou Hicky, who was on a fleeting visit between two other gigs. She performed a lovely version of Minutes Hours Days, especially good with the CSQ backing. Then she was off to her next gig. Will definitely try to see her again soon - she's got another CSQ gig soon apparently.

Next up - Simon Ward of the Glasgow band Errors. Juggling guitar and keyboards, he played a couple of tracks, with string backing of course, and just made you wish the whole Errors ensemble were there. Need to investigate - sound good.
Picture courtesy of 7aheadmusic

The next act on was a collaborative hip-hop number by Gasp, John Louie (Hector Bizerk) and Solareye. I have to admit that I did not expect to enjoy this section much, but they had each penned separate verses to a new number "Phantom of the Awkward" specially for the CSQ gig. First ever performance. I was very pleasantly surprised - they were really good - and the CSQ string backing worked well.
Picture courtesy of 7aheadmusic

The Cairn String Quartet then treated us to a number of contemporary chart hits on strings - my favourite was Franz Ferdinand's Take Me Out. 

Last but definitely not least was James Graham of Twilight Sad. 
He sang a very fine version of Alphabet from the Twilight Sad album No One Can Ever Know. His voice was great and the band should definitely do an official string backing version some day - this sounded fantastic.

Anyway - it was all over except for the raffle prizes (well it was a fund raiser) - lots of good prizes and they even raffled the chance to have the Quartet play in your venue of choice - your front room if you wanted!

All in all, a very varied evening, but hugely enjoyable, and a few bands (new to me) to investigate further.

Good luck in Austin, Cairn String Quartet 

Friday, 14 February 2014

Lumber Party

Stereo, Glasgow - 14th Feb 2014

..with Kid Canaveral, Randolph's Leap, Malcolm Middleton

In order of appearance:
Malcolm Middleton

Probably due to his role in Arab Strap, Malcolm Middleton has often been tarred with the ‘Depressed and Dark’ brush, despite the fact that Arab Strap regularly generated a smile or even a guffaw from anyone who actually listened to their lyrics.

He opened his set with "As it's Valentine's Day, I tried to put together a set of my songs that were full of love - but then I found there weren't any". This was more or less the theme of his set - top-notch guitar playing, excellent "wry smile" introspective lyrics, dark songs, deep from the heart.

Set list was (roughly): Cold Winter; By Proxy; Gone, Gone, Gone; Little Hurricane; Fuck It, I Love You; A Brighter Beat; Blue Plastic Bags

Randolph's Leap

[Photo credit to]
Next came Randolph's Leap, and this time it was a full band outing with brass and strings. Adam Ross (vocals and guitar), Gareth Robert Perrie (keyboards), Iain Taylor (drums), Vicki Cole (bass), Andrew MacLellan (guitar, cello),Fraser Gibson (trombone), Ali Hendry (trumpet) and Heather Thikey (violin)  

They cranked up the volume and really got the audience going with a fine set which included so many examples of Adam Ross's quirky and excellent lyrics that I am still smiling as I add the set list. If you're reading this Adam - yes, we're all OK!
The sound was excellent, and the brass and string section did a fine job, adding real depth to almost all the tracks, and especially on Real Anymore.
Set-list - Mutiny; News; Hermit; Goodbye; Nature; Real Anymore; Black and Blue; Counting Sheep; I Can't Dance To This Music Anymore; Light of The Moon.

Kid Canaveral
Kid Canaveral were next, David MacGregor (guitar, vocals), Kate Lazda (guitar, vocals), Rose McConnachie (bass, vocals) and Scott McMaster (drums, vocals)

They kicked off with a seasonal "Low Winter Sun", followed by the inappropriate (for Valentine's Day) "Breaking Up Is The New Getting Married" and "Without a Backing Track". 

However things started to go awry when they launched into a rockin' version of "You Only Went Out to Get Drunk Last Night" - David broke a string on the Fender Super-Sonic and
managed to change to his backup Telecaster without missing a vocal.


[Photo credit to]
Not just one string break, but two. Later on in the evening, another string break, this time on the Telecaster! No back-up guitar, so it was up to Andrew MacLellan from Randolph's
Leap to offer his guitar as a loaner. He made the most of the guitar handover.. ..milking the moment:


[Photo credit to]
Armed with loaner guitar, there were no more mishaps and they finished a great set with "And Another Thing", "Good Morning" and "Compromise". Excellent gig!

Oh, and every ticket holder got a Limited Edition bright pink vinyl copy of
the new single "Who Would Want To Be Loved". The B-side of which is a cover of
Randolph's Leap's "I Can't Dance To This Music Anymore" - collectors' item I'm guessing (hoping)

Set-list was:

Monday, 10 February 2014

February Music Plans

Lots of music events booked for the latter half of Feb:

1. Valentine's Day Friday 14th Feb: Kid Canaveral's Lumber Party* in Glasgow

*For those of you not from the Glasgow area and thus immune to the pun here: “A lumber is a person one meets at a dance or party and with whom one establishes an amorous relationship"

2. Friday 21st Feb: The Cairn String Quartet (and friends) in Glasgow

3. Friday 28th Feb: The Pictish Trail are playing the Grand Gallery in the Chamber Street Museum

Will provide updates after the events.