Saturday, 15 December 2018

Paul McCartney at the Hydro

Beatlemania is a alive and well if last night in Glasgow is anything go to. Scotland's largest indoor arena was packed by fans of all ages and fans from across the globe, eager to witness 76-year old Paul McCartney romp through 3-hours of hits with the odd surprise thrown in for good measure. 39-songs!

McCartney was in sparkling form from the off. The huge Glasgow ovation that greeted him seemed to inspire him and his fabulous band. McCartney had a gleam in his eyes and a wide smile on his face as he launched into the timeless pop of A Hard Days Night, a Lennon number. Well they are all Lennon and McCartney songs, they are our songs.

Sir Paul and his band skirted effortlessly through his back catalogue; we had lesser known numbers like Junior's Farm from his Wings days sandwiched between the opener of A Hard Days Night and Can't Buy Me Love. We had new numbers like Fuh You and I was surprised that was the melody I woke up with in my head this morning.

And I mentioned surprises. We had Lennon's Being For The Benefit Of Mr Kite over any of his own Pepper gems other than the title track, Macca stepping on to a platform in front of the stage and being raised to the roof to play Blackbird and Here Today in memory of John.

And we did have the odd (for me) forgettable moment. My Valentine, dedicated to wife Nancy in the crowd and then in the encore McCartney's seasonal offering Wonderful Christmas Time. Only memorable for the children's choir and the fake snow confetti falling from the ceiling.

But make no mistake, this was a wonderful 3-hours. I'll move on to my personal highlights.

Firstly there was the fact that my brother had managed to get us tickets 4 rows from the front, centre stage. We were in with some of Macca's staunchest fans from his fanclub, people from Canada, from Japan, people in Sgt Pepper costumes, people in retro t-shirts, people in new merchandise and people just completely in love with the man and his music.

Then there was Paul himself. He looks fantastic. He had a super cool navy jacket on to start off and I made a silent pact with myself to try and look that sharp if I make it to 76!

And McCartney was clearly enjoying himself, switching between bass and guitar, running to behind his piano, fingers dancing effortlessly over keys or frets. His guitar playing was top drawer.

His long serving band were magical. Drummer Abe Laboriel Jr beat his kit as if his life depended on it, he was incredible to watch. Guitarists Rusty Anderson and Brian Ray flanked McCartney and the three of them gelled with ease, while Paul 'Wix' Wickens was superb on keysand accordion. All helped with backing vocals.

Before I get to my personal song highlights (many!) I have to mention McCartney's personality. I've mentioned the twinkle in his eye, his smiles, but he was full of stories of watching Hendrix (there was a nice nod to him with an instrumental take on Foxy Lady) , there was the story of the Quarrymen recording for a fiver then all taking it in turns to have the demo acetate of In Spite Of All The Danger for 1-week, only for the drummer to then keep it for 20-years and sell it back to McCartney for a much, much higher price. And lovely memories of The Beatles and Linda.

McCartney was warm, charming, cheesey and someone who just loves to show off. In that sense he hasn't changed a bit since the early days of The Beatles. The others quickly tired of Beatlemania, it was McCartney who kept them together and drove projects like Pepper, Magical Mystery Tour, Let It Be and Abbey Road. It was McCartney who hit the road playing Universities in the 70's and just kept on going. He loves to play, needs to play and will always write and sing.

His energy and enthusiasm is infectious. As is his vast cannon of pop and the Glasgow crowd lapped it up.

My highlights;  an unexpected blast through Got To Get You Into My Life, a powerful blast of Let Me Roll It, the beautiful guitar riff and raw natural I've Got A Feeling, the section where the band all moved to the front of the stage to play the aforementioned Quarrymen song, the pop perfection of From Me To You, the modern Macca delight of Dance Tonight, the stunning Eleanor Rigby and newly Fuh You was fun.

There is more.....

Something was sensational. Stripped back on a ukulele at the start before the band came in. The section you're asking me how my love grows, I don't know, I don't know was performed perfectly on stage and off, the crowd were in love.

Macca was off on a sensational run of songs. Band On The Run was joyous, so playful, so melodic, so classically McCartney. The backing films shown on the screen were superb, Macca assembling his gang for the cover shoot, elsewhere we had Paul looking super cool on his farm in Campbeltown with little Mary wrapped in his jacket, rare Beatles footage and lots of psychedelic art.

Live And Let Die was epic. Indoor fireworks and fire blasted from the front of the stage and 4 rows back my brother and I could feel the heat! And then we had the sing song of the night, a sing song to end all sing songs, we had Hey Jude. It was magical, every single person in the arena was singing and McCartney took time to conduct the crowd.

Phew, it was far from over! McCartney and his band came back on waving flags.

Birthday, Sgt Peppers and Helter Skelter were powerful blasts of rock. Helter Skelter in particular was a real highlight, the on screen graphics really took the crowd on a trip.

And we ended perfectly with Golden Slumbers, Carry That Weight and The End.

What a show. This was my third time seeing Sir Paul. I sincerely hope there is a 4th.

Tuesday, 11 December 2018

2018 albums of the year

2018 has been a good year for music, I've probably listened to more than ever - thanks to falling for Spotify (I know, I know!!!), lots of traveling with work and generally just making more time to stick my headphones and get lost in an album, or trawling through Spotify to discover new music.

And Nothing Hurts by Spiritualized probably wins the title of my favourite album of 2018. Jason Pierce's ability to find a melody, to layer sounds, to let things flow ... is sublime. Rumours are that it might be his last. Everything about it is beautiful - playing, production, feel, artwork and packaging.

Elsewhere I fell for 2 Australian artists; Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever are a 5-piece playing with urgency, passion and raw energy, while Courtney Barnett is uniquely brilliant, sounding like she is lost in her own little world while viewing ours.

The Orielles are a young band that released their debut on Heavenly Recordings, Gruff Rhys continues to melt my heart with his beautiful voice, Robyn has produced another wonderful LP with real depth to it, my sister Carla has had an exceptional year and is developing at a fast rate of knots, while Primal Scream have dug what may prove to be a career defining album out of the back of guitarist Andrew Innes' cupboard!

So here are 14 songs from 14 albums I've enjoyed through 2018. I hope you enjoy this podcast.

A Perfect Miracle - Spiritualized from the album And Nothing Hurts
Talking Straight - Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever from the album Hope Downs
Need A Little Time - Courtney Barnett from the album Tell Me How You Really Feel
Dreamers On The Run - Carla J Easton from the album Impossible Stuff
Selfies In The Sunset - Gruff Rhys and Lily Cole from the album Babelsberg
Ever Again - Robyn from the album Honey
Blue Flowers - L Space from the album Kipple Arcadia
Let Your Dog Tooth Grow - The Orielles from the album Silver Dollar Moment
Heatwave - Snail Mail from the album Lush
Big Jet Plane - Primal Scream from the album The Original Memphis Recordings
Love You So Bad - Ezra Furman from the album Transangelic Exodus
Loving You - Starry Skies from the album Be Kind
And Then There's You - Bill Ryder-Jones from the album Yawn
Lake Zurich - Gorillaz from the album The Now Now

Thursday, 6 December 2018

James and The Charlatans, Glasgow Hydro

It’s been a long time since I left work and immediately headed out to a gig. Too long. Last night I skipped through the streets of Glasgow towards hip and happening Finnieston after leaving work at 6pm, headphones on, feeling like a teenager, giddy with the excitement and the anticipation of two of my favourite bands playing together.

The roads shimmered in the lights from cars and street lights and the buildings looked incredible in the night sky. Always remember to look up in Glasgow.

My teenage-esque giddiness was quite apt, as it was a 15-year old that I discovered both these bands through school common room mixtape. I remember only having enough money in Missing Records on Oswald Street to either by Goldmother by James or Out of Time by R.E.M. I chose James and never regretted it. I thought back to that moment on the walk to the Hydro and again when they played 3-tracks off that album during their sensational set.

And it was as a 15-year old that I fell for The Charlatans and their frontman Tim Burgess in particular. He seemed effortlessly cool, brilliant hair, great style and in his own little creative world. Between 10th and 11th was out and songs from that album would mix with songs from their debut as mixtapes were swapped. Along with Teenage Fanclub, The Charlatans are the band I have seen the most – well over 30-times, possibly approaching 40. In fact, maybe I have seen them more than Teenage Fanclub!

The Charlatans kicked off the night. The Hydro looked a little quiet when they came on stage, but I think that was largely due to the weather, traffic and train cancellations. They bravely opened with Totally Eclipsing from their recent EP before really getting into the groove with Let The Good Times Be Never Ending. Burgess patrolled the stage, urging the crowd on, hands in the air, conducting crowd and band. The place had filled and band and audience quickly became one.

Then we had what could easily be described as the holy trinity; One To Another, North Country Boy and Tellin’ Stories from the LP with the same name as the latter. One To Another soared, the energy from that song is incredible. North Country Boy swaggered and sparkled as cheekily as it did upon release and the crowd lapped it up. Tellin’ Stories was beautiful, melancholic and then in your face.

Different Days and Plastic Machinery fitted effortlessly into the set, the latter was the best I have heard it – classic Charlatans with Burgess singing of how at times it is good to be rejected.

And then the Hydro erupted as the band fired up and into The Only One I Know and several thousand middle aged men endulged in a spot of Bez/Dad dancing and reached for the sky singing everyone’s been burned before, everybody knows the pain.

I wasn’t expecting Impossible and it sounded all the better for being a surprise. Nor was I expecting the falsetto funk of You’re So Pretty which grooved superbly before Weirdo took things higher. I wasn’t sure if the band would end with traditional set closer Sproston Green but I was glad they did. The moment the lights turned green set my heart on fire and they slowly but surely built the groove before leading the crowd on a song and dance for a good 10-minutes. The band and Burgess were in brilliant form.

After a quick trip to the bar we were back down the front for James. The 8-piece band entered to a huge ovation and they wasted no time in highlighting they are not and never will be a heritage act by tearing into 2-songs from their 15th album Living In Extraordinary Times that was released this year.

They then took things up a notch with a glorious Waltzing Along and a rip roaring Tomorrow. The band were on fire, they tore into it and the energy they radiated was exceptional.

James don't play Sit Down that often these days, so it was a real treat toes and hear them playing it. It is HUGE and the crowd sang along with all their heart and soul.

Stutter was another song where the band were really on fire, Tim Booth vibed off his band and they responded in return. Out To Get You was tender, beautiful and soulful before the band delivered a stunning version of Just Like Fred Astaire. I'd forgotten about this particular song but I have listened to it a couple of times today after last night.

Leviathan is a particular highlight on the new album for me and the band played it superbly with Booth advising and lecturing f**king love, before they drop the bomb make sure you get enough.

Booth was absolutely sensational last night, dancing his heart out, patrolling the stage, in the audience, standing up on the barriers and generally inspiring every single person in the venue, on stage and off.

As a young teenager I loved How Was It For You for the huge chorus and the way it flows and I felt like a teenager again as I danced and sang my heart out.

The band always seem to find something extra in Sound, its a special song that allows the band to play and explore, Booth again was utterly mesmerising. The opening synth riff from Come Home was embraced warmly and it sounded huge.

I imagine that James could have played for hours, but there was a curfew and we had time for 3-songs in the encore. Many Faces from their new album was beautiful and the crowd sang along with Booth and after he had finished causing him to smile widely and wildly.

Then he was down at the crowd right where we were standing to sing on of my favourite James songs, the brilliant Getting Away With It (All Messed Up) before finishing with yet another of my favourites, the truly soulfully beautiful Sometimes.

Sometimes, when I look deep in your eyes, I swear I can see your soul

I haven't felt so good after a gig in a long, long time. Both bands were in incredible form, I would say that is the best that I have seen James and i have been going to see them for over 20-years.

James have announced a new tour with a Scottish date in Edinburgh. I suspect many of those at the Hydro last night will be trying to get tickets. Better be quick tomorrow.

Tuesday, 20 November 2018

Jumpin' Jack Flash

Called supernatural Delta Blues by way of swinging London by Rolling Stone magazine, Jumpin' Jack Flash was released by The Rolling Stones 50-years ago back in 1968.

It still sounds absolutely incredible. The guitars crash and collide, sounding raw and vital, the beat kicks in and so does Jagger.

I was born in a cross-fire hurricane
And I howled at the morning driving rain
But it's all right, now, in fact it's  gas
But it's all right, I'm Jumpin' Jack Flash
It's a gas, gas, gas

The line in the second verse I was schooled with a strap right across my back is brilliant, the riffing and grooving is relentless and the whole song and performance just oozes cool.

Here are the Stones getting it on in Texas in 1972 and click here for the original. 

How on earth do you even dare to cover so thrilling?!

Well it has been covered well over 1,000 times! However, if you are someone called Ananda Shankar you turn it into a largely instrumental psychedelic sitar infused jam with soaring backing vocals for the hooks. This version was released on an album of covers back in 1970. I first heard this a long, long time ago in one of my best friends bedrooms. We'd meet up on Friday and Saturday nights and play each other the latest records/cd's we'd bought and discuss the music news from the NME and Melody Maker - simpler times!

Reddy had stumbled across a David Holmes mix/compilation and this was on it. It blew our minds and was yet further evidence of Holmes impeccable taste and crate digging credentials.

It is very different, yet it keeps the groove you can feel the energy from the song, just like the Stones. With a song like this I don't think you could contain the energy from the lyrics and groove.


Previous covers of the month

Saturday, 17 November 2018

Teenage Fanclub Camden night 3

The last 3 weeks have seen a flurry of postings on the Teenage Fanclub Fanclub Facebook page. Outpourings of love for a special band playing their Creation Records albums - Bandwagonesque, Thirteen, Grand Prix, Songs from Northern Britain and Howdy! in Glasgow, Manchester, Birmingham and London.

There were also outpourings of disbelief and grief - were these really the last shows that Gerry Love would be playing with the band?

We'll have to wait and see, but if they were then fellow Fanclub fan Chris Donnelly was there to witness what might have been the last one.

Guest blog by Chris Donnelly.

If I Could Find The Words To Say…

The last night of any Teenage Fanclub tour is usually one that the fans who will be attending look forward to for weeks. The current Creation Years tour really got people buzzing when it was announced. Plenty bought season tickets for the three gigs in the venues nearest their town, several decided to follow it around, some mixed and matched on the venues and loads decided to go to the one which resonated most – usually night two the Grand Prix/Songs From Northern Britain night. For the diehards, however, these were to be gigs to be savoured. Rarely, or never, played songs would all be getting dusted down and played again or for the first time. Vinyl reissues and a tour to follow. What could possibly go wrong? Well, how long have you got?

Firstly, and I appreciate this is a more personal one for me, the proposed site of the Glasgow gigs, the ABC, was destroyed in the School of Art fire. This meant that the original dates had to be rescheduled and shifted back a day. I was stuffed as I was double booked for night two. I couldn’t make any of the other second night gigs anywhere which meant that my TFC holy grail song, Mount Everest, was going to be played and I wouldn’t be hearing it*. I was covered for night 3 as I had booked a ticket for the last night of the tour in London. My misfortune on night two actually was a benefit to a lot more people given the much higher capacity at the Barras.

Secondly, and far more importantly, in late August the band announced a February 2019 tour of Japan and Australia. Good news, eh? Well, not quite. The next paragraph of the announcement stated that “Gerard Love will not be in the band for these dates, or any other shows beyond those we are playing this year. His last show will be November 15th…after that London show Gerry will be separating from the band, and Teenage Fanclub will be continuing without him”. It was a horribly worded and, in my opinion, disrespectful statement which raised more questions than answers and more statements were released over the next few days to try put a more diplomatic spin on the events. 

My night 3 ticket was no longer for just the last night of the tour, it was also for Gerry’s last night in the band. Like most people who will read this, I am a huge fan of the band. However, like anyone, I have favourites and I am proudly in the Gerry camp. For me, and many others, this was particularly devastating news.

Murray has covered off the Barras gigs in this blog so I’ll move on to November 15th at Electric Ballroom Camden. 

I was horribly conflicted about the gig. I was looking forward to it but I also had this horrible sinking feeling about it. I genuinely expected to cry. I thought Broken would be the one which would tip me. The words really hit home that night with the crowd singing along. Amazingly – to me- I held it together and there was one song left. 

Broken - Electric Ballroom, Camden, November 2018

Would they let Gerry sing the last one? The answer, of course, was no. Norman announced Everything Flows which was belted out at full pelt complete with an endearingly shambolic (copyright any TFC gig review) ending as Brendan and Norman swapped instruments, Brendan sang Sidewinder until he couldn’t remember any more words and then it was done. A superb ending to a brilliant gig. Gerry bolted from the stage to the exit door as if he was chasing the last bus to Hyndland. It was then that it hit home with the crowd that he was offski and it was an end of an era. “Gerry, Gerry, Gerry” rang out from all areas of the packed venue but all to no avail. He was gone. No fuss, no fanfare, no speech. Just away. He remains, as long time TFC gig goer Neil McAllister says, as cool as f**k.

Everything Flows - Gerry's last time?

I’m not sure yet how I feel about the band going on without him. At this time, I swither on whether I will ever go see them again. No doubt if they announce a date at the Barras, my Ticketmaster account will get battered again. I need to see them but I know it will never be the same. Whether Gerry will ever do a Nigel Tufnell and reappear from the side of the stage, only he and the band will know. One thing’s for sure: it won’t be in Japan. 

My hope is that after this hiatus, they sort it out and he can be back in his normal place. For me, stage left for the foreseeable future is an empty space.

The closer from Howdy! Summed up my feelings from the night. 

If I never see you again, you will stay in my mind

And that will be true for every other member of the Fanclub community.

*thanks to Terje Lynnebakken @terjely for recording the song in full at the Barrowlands for me.

Everything Flows - Camden, November 2018

Sunday, 11 November 2018


Last week I was driving to work and McAlmont and Butler's Yes suddenly came blaring out of my stereo. What a slice of pure euphoric pop! Released in May 1995, this was Bernard Butler's first musical offering to the world since his departure from Suede in 1994 during the tense recordings of their second album, the dark Dog Man Star.

It is safe to say that Suede made a huge impression on the UK indie scene, so much so that they blew over into the mainstream. Their first 4 singles (previously blogged about here) were exceptional slices of guitar pop, full of hooks and riffs, but also full of intrigue and intelligence. Singer Brett Anderson and guitarist and co-singwriter Bernard Butler looked and sounded incredible and were quickly christened as the 90's Morrissey and Marr, making front covers, Top of the Pops, the Brits and gaining the stamp of approval from David Bowie.

Butler was a whirlwind on guitar, pacing around stages and studios looking like he was having the time of his life by wringing, shaking and hammering on his guitar for all he was worth. Anderson shaked, shimmied and looked like a classic front man from the off. What a duo, brilliantly backed by a super tight rhythm section of Matt Osman and Simon Gilbert. Girls ... and boys swooned.

They had a frantic 3-years of activity following the release of debut single The Drowners, it is little wonder there was tension in the band from all the writing, recording, touring and promo.

Butler left and went quiet. I think there were rumours of him joining various bands at times, but he surfaced with Yes and a partnership with singer David McAlmont. The two met in the Jazz Cafe in Camden and Butler was soon playing his new friend his first positive piece of music since leaving Suede.

And oh how positive it is, McAlmont wrote a verse but couldn't come up with a second, so Butler just told him to repeat the first with the duo hoping to commit something that could be held up as a classic single like those they loved from the 60's.

The official video, the full version has another minute on the end

McAlmont's lyrics match the positive surge of Butler's music. The strings soar and instantly sound euphoric, Butler's guitar crashes and provides a constant rhythm throughout, while seemingly simultaneously chiming and riffing.

The lyrics could easily be McAlmont's interpretation of whatever Butler told him about leaving Suede. The title, the simple Yes, is pure positivity, Butler has recovered from the dark post Suede months, he does look better and he does feel alright.

David McAlmont's vocal is exceptional and after a quick 1st verse that sounds like McAlmont relaying a conversation they are into the sky scraping chorus. The about me, about me, about me line that McAlmont yelps out is the perfect bridge into the chorus. Then they do it again for good measure, only they take it even higher and it sounds even better.

They hit the second chorus at 2-minutes and then repeat it again before leading to a stunning build up to a full on 2-minute climax. They take it higher, Butler's guitar is relentless, the strings are thrilling and McAlmont takes his vocals up a gear or three, the drums crash and pound and it all combines to sound fresh and vital, even 23-years down the line. It is timeless pop - epic, euphoric, sublime and soulful.

The song ends with it gradually breaking and slowing down into applause. I like to think that they simply couldn't keep the pace up or put anymore into it. They have played and sung their hearts out.

Enjoy the live version from Later with Jools below - look at Butler on guitar! And here is a link to the full, near 5-minute single version.

So you wanna know me now
How I've been
You Can't help someone recover
After what you did
So tell me am I looking better?
Have you forgot
Whatever it was that you couldn't stand 
About me, about me, about me?

Because yes I do feel better
Yes I do I feel alright
I feel well enough to tell you what you can do with what you got
To offer

Monday, 5 November 2018

Never Ending Mixtape Part 29

Welcome to the latest additions to my Never Ending Mixtape playlist on Spotify. There is a double dose as a hefty amount of songs are added to take the total songs up to over 750. I missed blogging on my additions last month due to a bit of a Teenage Fanclub fixation, so here we go ....

As always, search for Everything Flows Never Ending Mixtape on Spotify, or CLICK HERE,  scroll to the end for the latest additions that are listed below, play from the start, anywhere in between, or click on shuffle.

Thanks to those of you that follow the playlist and thanks for checking it out.

Autobahn 66 - Primal Scream
In the Year 2525 - Zager and Evans
Here Comes My Baby - The Tremeloes
The Mighty Quinn - Manfredd Mann
Do You Believe In Magic? - The Lovin' Spoonful
Summer in the City - The Lovin' Spoonful
I Think We're Alone Now - Tommy James and The Shondells
(I'm Not Your) Steppin' Stone - The Monkees
Look Out (Here Comes Tomorrow) - The Monkees
She Hangs Out - The Monkees
Is It A Dream? - Miaoux Miaoux
24-Hour Party People - Happy Mondays
Hallelujah (Oakenfold club mix) Happy Mondays
1979 - Smashing Pumpkins
Vanishing Point - New Order
The Killing Moon - Echo and the Bunnymen
Rust - Echo and the Bunnymen
Sometimes - Jesus and Mary Chain
Don't Come Down - Jesus and Mary Chain
Why'd You Want Me - Jesus and Mary Chain
New York City - Jesus and Mary Chain
El Presidente - Drugstore
Slippin' and Slidin' (Peepin' and Hedin') - Little Richard
All Things Must Pass - George Harrison
Duffed Up - Primal Scream
If The Move Kill 'Em (12 inch disco mix) - Primal Scream
Not Enough - J Mascis
Wide Awake - J Mascis
All My Friends - LCD Soundsystem
Losing My Edge - LCD Soundsystem
Bang Your Drum - Dead Man Fall
On The Roof - The Feelies
Don't Falter - Mint Royale w/ Lauren Laverne
You Got The Love (Now Voyager mix) - The Source and Candi Staton
Behold the Miracle - Jad Fair and Teenage Fanclub
Call Me - Emmitt Long
Don't Take My Mind - Bettye Swann
Grunewald - Tess Parks and Anton Newcombe
You're A Big Girl Now (take 2) - Bob Dylan
Why Did You Take Your Love Away From Me - James Brown
Love Slipped Through My Fingers - Ohio Players
Purples - Sebastian Piano
My Heart Needs A Break - Linda Jones
Indian Summer - Beat Happening
Tangled Up In Blue (take 3, remake 3) - Bob Dylan
My Little Girl - Bobby Garrett

Wednesday, 31 October 2018

Teenage Fanclub Barrowland night 3

One of my favourite Teenage Fanclub songs (definitely top 5) is an old b-side called Broken, released as a b-side to Ain't That Enough back in 1997. It never used to be in my top 5 until the band played it many years ago when they did a b-sides and rarities night at Oran Mor in Glasgow. I fell for it big time and since then it is a song I have returned to many, many times.

It was the penultimate song of their 3-nights at the Barrowland Ballroom and it was truly, truly beautiful. I have experienced some incredible moments in the Barras and this was up there. Starting with Norman on acoustic, the band gradually joined him, playing the same fragile riff over and over before Norman started singing your heart has been broken again, it's broken, it's broken.

The song is deceptively simple on paper. There are no more lyrics, they are just repeated like the riff. But the combination of the playing, melody, lyrics, feel and performance of the song is magical. Even more so tonight. Norman and the band gradually fade out and as they faded you could hear the whole of the Barrowland Ballroom singing just as gently, as hushed and as considerate as Norman;

My heart has been broken again
It's broken, it's broken

It was a spine tingling Barrowland moment, kind of difficult to describe, just trust me on this one! My favourite band, playing one of my favourite songs in my favourite venue. Quite a few people seemed to get some dust in their eyes, possibly even some of the band.

And so I'm back home beginning to wonder what I will do tomorrow night. I've seen Teenage Fanclub 4-nights out of 6!

Tonight was the turn of Howdy! and some b-sides and rarities. The second set will cause me to go up in my loft tomorrow to dig out all my old CD singles. I had forgotten about some including a Gerry Love song called Getting Real which is outstanding! I thought it was a cover tonight! In fact it is so good, check it out! It was even better live.

Highlights from Howdy! were Gerry's impeccable Near You, Raymond was outstanding tonight with The Sun Shines From You being my favourite of his, while I'll plump for Norman's If I Never See You Again as my own highlight from his songs from this album.

Norman was beaming all night, a smile was never far from his face. Brendan appeared regularly to assist the band and as always generated smiles and laughter. Paul Quinn was fantastic on drums whilst Francis contributes so much, his backing vocals/harmonies were superb tonight, and of course the ever reliable and supremely talented musician Dave McGowan played all manner of instruments.

The second set of the night was probably my favourite though. The band seemed relaxed and in great spirits as they opened with Norman's sublime Did I Say. Raymond's My Life was another I didn't remember, while Long Hair is one of my favourite Fanclub songs - power punk pop. It sounded sensational with Dave joining Norman and Raymond on electric guitars.

Norman's Some People Try To F**k With You was outstanding and Gerry and Norman singing together on He'd Be A Diamond always caused a nice shiver down my spine.

The aforementioned Broken was magical and a romp through The Flying Burrito Brothers Older Guys closed the night and what may be Gerry Love's final Glasgow show with Teenage Fanclub.

Despite the odd shout from the crowd for a speech, I don't think anyone was really expecting the band or Gerry to make a big deal of it. They've said their piece. Lets just enjoy the amazing music, the memories and also look to the future.

My take - I doubt very much that was the last time I will see Gerry with the band in Glasgow again. I certainly hope not! But the band are off on tour and hopefully Gerry might release some new music.

Now, could I get a ticket for a Manchester or London show....

Tuesday, 30 October 2018

Teenage Fanclub Barrowland Ballroom night 2

Pic by Tony Docherty 

There is no doubt, in what I must do
Nothing is greater, than to be with you

Phew, I'm just in from the Barrowland Ballroom following a peerless performance by Teenage Fanclub who flew though their Grand Prix and Songs from Northern Britain albums.

Paul Quinn replaced Brendan O'Hare on drums (as per the recordings) and it was a classic 4-piece line-up that took to the stage and burst through Raymond's About You to a huge cheer.

O'Hare was never far from the action, walking on to the stage draped in a red cloak at the start of Gerry's much loved Sparky's Dream, appearing with a little percussion instrument to kick off the song. At other times he checked up on the band with a clipboard, or stood beside Dave to play percussion. His humour and energy is infectious and at one point he joked that everyone should look at him cause that's what its all about :-)

Grand Prix has such a superb run of songs, we had Norman's beautiful Mellow Doubt, followed by the stunning Gerry Love penned Don't Look Back. We were being spoilt.

Neil Jung was simply stunning. There was soul, power and real feeling to Norman's guitar and voice. He then excelled in delivering a gorgeous version of Tears which tugged on the heart strings.

The way Norman and Gerry's songwriting developed on Grand Prix was exceptional. Love's energetic Discolite was sublime and Going Places caused hearts to melt, it was exquisite.

It wasn't only Brendan that supplied the humour as Norman regularly had to battle to tune his guitar (just like the old days) or check which fret he should place his capo on.

McGinley's songwriting was also developing, Verisimilitude received a fantastic response from the crowd, while with Say No was one of his own highlights from the night.

Hardcore Ballad was superb. The band riffing and ripping it up to leave Norman alone with his acoustic to sing from the bottom of his heart. It was a stunning end to the set, really beautiful and heartfelt.

And love is easy to define
What mine is yours, and yours is mine
Through the pain, through the pain

Last summer I blogged about Songs from Northern Britain HERE and stated that I had come to the conclusion that it was the best Teenage Fanclub album. I stand by that. My favourite album will probably always be Bandwagonesque cause I discovered that LP and the band when I was 15, a really special time. But song for song and the way all 3 songwriters have developed, SFNB is peerless.

The performance at the Barrowland was exceptional. The way Blake and Love combined their vocals was utterly joyful, the way Raymond shredded his guitar on Can't Feel My Soul was exhilarating, the sky scraping choruses of Ain't That Enough, I Don't Want Control Of You, Take The Long Way Round and Speed of Light made me feel like a teenager, completely lost in the music and the wonder of the sound that 4 friends can create with guitars, bass, drums and a little imagination, and the escapism sought in Planets, Winter and Mount Everest sounded ever more appealing. And then you have the gorgeous Your Love Is The Place I Come From with the usual cheers for Norman on xylophone.

I described the first night at the Barrowland as majestic, well tonight was peerless. Special mention to Dave McGowan and Francis MacDonald (Brendan gets his above) - two incredibly talented musicians who were phenomenal in helping the band sound superb.

Monday, 29 October 2018

Teenage Fanclub Barrowland Ballroom night 1

Teenage Fanclub were magnificent tonight, they were majestic, funny, soulful and true to themselves. They laughed at each other, themselves and together. They had fun and it visibly showed.

The first night of the Creation Records years run of shows at the world famous Barrowland Ballroom was a triumph. The famous Barrowland roar that rose from the floor as the band walked on stage was repeated before they could even begin. The partisan crowd were here to greet band and classic albums Bandwagonesque and Thirteen like long lost friends ... and they did.

She wears denim where ever she goes
Says she's gonna get some records by the Status Quo
Oh yeah
Oh yeah

Norman Blake's words from 1991 were bellowed back at him by the crowd, guitars chimed and Joe McAlinden joined in on violin. The sound was perfect, especially standing in front of Raymond McGinley as he bended notes and shredded his guitar. The band extended The Concept before using feedback to usher in the ferocious riff of Satan. We were off.

December was utterly beautiful as Brendan O'Hare on drums pointed out. The humour Brendan displayed between (and during) songs was often hilarious.

What You Do To Me was guitar pop perfection, the guitars on I Don't Know were glorious and Star Sign was utter joy. O'Hare was magnificent on drums, the rolls during the spaces were sublime, he was on fire. And very nearly passed out, dousing his head with water several times!

It will be really interesting to see the band progress through their catalogue over the 3-nights. The purity of songs like What You Do To Me, the humour in The Concept and Metal Baby are songs that could only have been written by men in their early 20's.

Likewise the simplicity of songs like Pet Rock and Sidewinder make them perfect pop - Love and O'Hare sing of smiles sending them wild, or loving the way their girl walks or talks, when she is ticking he is her tock. It is sublime and a treat to hear and see these songs performed live.

The band changed instruments and personnel throughout the night; Francis MacDonald, Dave McGowan, Joe McAlinden and briefly Paul Quinn were all on stage at one point or another, creating brilliant sounds.

The closing trio of songs were stunning. Alcoholiday probably got the best reception of the night, a Norman Blake masterpiece. Then there was a huge ovation for Gerry just before Guiding Star and he looked emotional and received just as big an ovation afterwards.

Then we had the incredible sound of 4 of TFC on electric guitar for the closing Is This Music? It was and it was tremendous.

After a short break where every guy in the Barrowland seemed to go to the loo, the band were back to play Thirteen. Norman joked by playing the start of The Concept again but then we were into the intro of Hang On with Gerry Love coming up with one of my favourite lines

Of all the stars I've ever seen
You're the sun

Thirteen is the sound of a band developing. You have Norman Blake falling head over heels in love with the girl he would later marry and the chorus of Norman 3 yeah I'm in love with you sounded sublime when the venue sung along with Norman. Commercial Alternative is also the sound of someone falling head first.

Radio was a romp and caused some to pogo. O'Hare was magical on drums on this bubblegum punk pop perfection. 120 Mins was a contender for the most beautiful song of the night with McGowan playing mandolin. They hey hey hey's during Fear of Flying were great fun on stage and off and it was a treat to hear McGinley's stunning Tears Are Cool, truly one of his best, it just flows superbly.

The short Ret Live Dead led into the jam Get Funky and I wish it had gone on longer, again the band looked like they were having real fun with three electric guitars gelling and it caused me to think what bands have fun jams on their albums these days? TFC have always played by their own rules.

Gerry Love's beautiful Gene Clark closed a very memorable night and it was fantastic to see so many friends I have met through a mutual love and appreciation of the band.

Roll on night 2!

Saturday, 27 October 2018

Teenage Fanclub at the CCA

It is difficult to portray the feelings I felt last night when I heard and witnessed Teenage Fanclub play songs like Gene Clark, Sidewinder, Alcoholiday, Fear of Flying, Guiding Star, Tears, Going Places and Neil Jung live.

Many of the songs from the two sets the band performed hadn't been played live in circa 25-years, some had never been played at all. So to hear and witness them live in the intimate setting of the reopened CCA was pretty special.

The fact that the Fannies opened with the almost sacred Gene Clarke was incredible. This is a song that fans have been passionately shouting for at almost every Fanclub gig I have ever attended. People were still queueing to get in when they started. The opening instrumental sounded glorious and then Gerry Love took control and set the controls for the heart of the sun. What a start!

The guitars sounded gorgeous and the band sounded slick and oiled, but with that raw Fanclub soul, swiftly rolling into Metal Baby and Escher before Brendan O'Hare on drums took on lead vocals for a sublime Sidewinder, a bit of a highlight for me.

When you're walking I love your walk
When you're talking I love your talk

My favourite band flew from one into another of my favourite songs. The guitars collided to sound heavenly for Alcoholiday. And if the Creation shows have given me reason to revisit albums from my youth then Gerry Love's Fear of Flying has become a real favourite. It sounded even better live. Raymond's 120-minutes was blissfully simple and beautiful for it, listing things he doesn't know before the kiss off I just wanna see your face again, be my friend.

Guiding Star may well have been my song of the night, it tugged on heart strings I didn't know I had, I may well cry at the Barrowland Ballroom when it is played on Monday night. Commercial Alternative is the joyful sound of a young man in love sounding even better 25-years down the line and the closing instrumental of Is This Music? with Gerry, Raymond, Dave and Francis on electric guitars was utterly stunning.

Pic by Craig Harrower

One of the best things about last night was that there were two real Fanclub fans on stage in the shape of Dave and Brendan. Dave's smile was a wide as the Clyde all night as he got to play these rarely heard songs to an audience that lapped them up. Brendan was the same, full of excited nervous energy (in a good way) and displaying quick wit and good humour throughout.

There was a short break and just enough time to pop to the downstairs bar for a beer, arriving back to find the band blitzing into Speed of Light. Paul Quinn was on drums for the second set, one which for me, highlighted the development of the band. To see the band up close playing songs from Bandwagonesque and Thirteen, followed by a set from Grand Prix, Songs from Northern Britain and Howdy! really showcased their development as songwriters and artists.

Norman and Gerry's voices gelled with ease, their harmonies sounded sublime, Cul De Sac was a particular highlight. Raymond's guitar flourishes were subtle at times, at others they soared. Tears was beautiful, Take The Long Way Round was a blitz of glorious guitar pop, Dumb Dumb Dumb was spine tingling and it was a delight to hear I Don't Care live.

Going Places was just perfect and Neil Jung was another glorious collision of guitars and Norman Blake singing his heart out.

What a fantastic night, the band were in top form and it was lovely to speak with Brendan before the show and hear how excited he was about everything. And it is always a pleasure to meet and converse with fellow Fanclub fans. Roll on the Barrowlands.

Friday, 26 October 2018

Teenage Fanclub in Livingston

Guest blog by Mark Hannah

Teenage Fanclub at the Howden Park Centre, Thursday 25th of October 2018

The anticipation surrounding Teenage Fanclub’s upcoming Creation Years tour has been pretty massive. Taking over venues for three nights in a row playing all the Creation albums cover to cover with some b-sides and rarities thrown in for good measure is a brilliant prospect. With over 70 songs being rehearsed with two former drummers though, seemingly quite a task. However, judging from the warm up show in Livingston on Thursday night, the band are in wonderful shape and seeing them all together at once is joyous, a feeling which will only swell come the first of three nights at the Glasgow Barrowlands on Sunday.

The Howden Park Centre was a perfect venue for this. Intimate 300 seated theatre in West Lothian. Thankfully, I was one of the very first people to phone the box office the morning they went on sale, just a week before, and bagged a ticket at the very middle of the front row. Nobody was really sure what to expect in terms of a set list, and seeing the evening was split into two with a short interval in between, it only added to the speculation. 

Seeing George Borowski pre-show tuning things up and adjusting things never fails to make me smile. They soon emerge and clatter their way into Thirteen’s “Hang On” and songs from side A of that record were plentiful. Poor Brendan on drums was jokingly ready to expire after an explosive, quick fire “Radio” with Dave and Frances present on stage adding keys and lap-steels to really enhance the on stage sound. 

The elephant in the room is of course Gerry’s departure from the band following these UK Creation dates, and his vocal harmonising with Norman is so glorious and uplifting that it brings his now limited time with the band back into sharp focus. Nevertheless, he takes centre stage with a green telecaster, “Painted by us ourselves” Norman kids, and eases his way into Bandwagonesque’s “December.” Act one is a healthy mixture of Bandwagonesque and Thirteen and I was really happy to see “I Don’t Know” thrown in there, too. Norman was interjecting about his favourite TV shows again, reminiscent of the Shepherd’s Bush gig last year. 

Brendan’s drumming is fast, sharp and showboating, here we see a man who was clearly a stand-up comic in another life with his on stage patter, regularly leaving Norman and Gerry laughing during songs. They conclude with a rousing “The Concept”, with a select few along from me in the front row trying to encourage the crowd to stand, which admittedly I would have loved, but with great power comes great responsibility, and having already gained a notorious reputation on the Fanclub circuit for an Edinburgh stage invasion two years back, I didn’t want to be “that young dick down the front”, so stayed firmly in my seat.

After a quick interval of toilet trips and restocking the cans of Guinness, back down the front for Act Two. This presented a bit of a broader mix of Grand Prix, Songs From Northern Britain and Howdy! 

Paul Quinn takes the place of Brendan on drums and the sound in this small theatre is genuinely fantastic, and the way the band all gel with so many on stage at once is brilliant to watch, even from a non-musicians perspective like mine. Particular highlights are “I Need Direction” which sounded unbelievable, and “Accidental Life.” This all proving to be a tantalising taste of what’s to come on the upcoming tour so I shall not divulge and dissect anything too greatly. 

Norman is the jack of all trades with some mighty fine whistling during “Mellow Doubt” and the evening closes with a triumphant “Don’t Look Back” asserting how brilliant a singer Gerry really is. All in all, this is exactly everything you want from a wee, intimate warm up show; plenty of banter, an adoring little crowd and a nice healthy spread of album tracks. All roads lead to the Barrowlands in just over 48 hours time as I type this sentence, hence why I’ll keep this one short and sweet, where all these brilliant records will get the cover to cover live plays that they so thoroughly deserve. It’ll be a brilliant and quite emotional few days for sure, but I wouldn’t expect anything less from my favourite band in the whole world.

See you in McChuills on Monday beforehand, Fanclub.
Mark Hannah.

Friday, 19 October 2018

Carla J Easton - Impossible Stuff

If you are a regular or semi-regular reader of my blog then you'll already know of my sisters creative talents through the songs she has written and recorded with her bands Futuristic Retro Champions and TeenCanteen and her first solo album Homemade Lemonade that she released under the guise of Ette.

Carla is now stepping out as an official solo artist after a particularly productive couple of years that included the aforementioned Homemade Lemonade album, the Say It All With A Kiss LP and the Sirens EP with TeenCanteen, as well as videos, festivals and sessions

There have been collaborations with Belle and Sebastian - a co-write and lead vocal on Best Friend and with Kirsty Law on The Iron Railing, a writing retreat at the Banff Arts Centre in Canada and then a return trip to record the album with Howard Bilerman, who produced Arcade Fire's seminal Funeral LP, on production duties. Oh and she is making a documentary on Scottish girl groups, curated a night at the Edinburgh Arts Festival and I'm pretty sure I've missed something. Oh yeah, she has 6-songs recorded that might be on her next album plus a couple left over from Canada.

In short it has been fantastic to see my wee sister so creative and productive and receiving excellent support from all over the world. Her 2 visits to Canada in 2017 were, in her own words, 'life changing'. On a writing retreat at the Banff Arts Centre, she bloomed and was promptly invited back to record an album.

And so on to the album Impossible Stuff  . I originally started writing a blog on it last October when I first heard it, then deleted it, rewrote some, scrapped it, started it, left it ...... and finally decided just to go with what I have! So here is a short review, some of the videos released over the last year and links to other reviews and interviews. There has been a fantastic response to the album. I'm super proud of my wee sis. And there is a lot more to come from her!

Check the video for Dreamers On The Run (above), the opening track, with Carla representing Scotland at the Eurovision) opens the album. It's under 2-minutes long but there is a lot packed in. The song floats and flows, Fats Kaplin on violin is stunning and there is a strong Celtic melody and tone.

The title track is exceptionally melodic and playful with Carla utilising the talents of friends she made in Canada at the Banff Arts Centre. There are strings, crashing drums, a beautiful piano solo and then a build up to a glorious racket that starts at 2 minutes 12 seconds and brings in a choir and what sounds like every instrument Carla's friends could get their hands on. It sounds amazing! Check the video recorded with talented friends within 3-days of returning from Canada.

Impossible things just to hear your heart sing
Oh I'd do anything for you
Impossible stuff just to feel your love
Oh I'd do anything for you

Lights In The Dark was the first single to be released from the album back at the start of the year. Carla tells a story and her lyrics paint a picture, the 80's drum beat sounds cool and it's one of my favourite vocals from the album.

You can just take my heart
You can just pull me apart
I'm searching for the lights in the dark

Meet Me In Paris has a nice psychedelic tinge to it courtesy of some sitar action, the melody, feel and urgency in the song makes an immediate impact. Melodies pour out of my wee sister, almost literally on Never Had the Words, the vocal melody just tumbles out and doesn't stop, its a real favourite.

Next is second single Wanting What I Can't Have. I remember Carla sending me the demo that she recorded at our Mum's house and her being really proud of it, describing it as a little Primal Scream-esque. It's an epic, particularly good live.

The album spins from Carole King inspired numbers, to 80's drum machines and synths, to Spector-esque walls of sound, to stomping pop and Milk and Honey (video below) merges the last two.

Things slow down for Girl from Before, a late 50's/early 60's inspired ballad with soaring strings and at one point it seems like the vocal melodies are just going to keep building, before slowing back down. There is some stunning guitar playing towards the end.

Then Vagabond, the oldest song on the album and originally a b-side to the TeenCanteen 7-inch You're Still Mine, is rerecorded and it is just gorgeous. Here is a live version Carla recored with TeenCanteen.

The album ends with the Harrison produced by Spector Lullaby. All Things Must Pass is a favourite album of Carla's and I know she listened to it a lot en route to Canada. This is a spine tingler, the guitar solo is stunning.

Impossible Stuff delivers more on every listen, the quality shines through. Melodies are everywhere, the playing and production is exquisite, there is real heart on sleeve soul, playfulness and the sound of someone in the zone with a studio, producer, engineer and musicians who believe in her and can create the sounds from here head.

Impossible Stuff has been getting a lot of attention and people are saying some lovely things! In addition to airplay and sessions, here are some links to review and interviews, including a cracking track-by-track interview Carla did with The Skinny. You can buy the vinyl from Olive Grove Records and it should be in Monorail, Assai and Love Music.

The Skinny track by track

The List

Record of the Day - Milk and Honey 

Sunday Post 

Sounds Like Blog

The Fountain

Louder Than War

The Music Brewery