Saturday 23 July 2022

Gerry Cinnamon at Hampden Park

Photo from Gerry's second night by Geoff Ellis, Df Concerts
'historical & amazing scenes ... magical'

Gerry Cinnamon, Cinnamon, Gerry Cinnamon

Na, na, na, na, na , na, na , na

Last weekend Gerry Cinnamon played 2 sold out nights at Hampden Park in Glasgow. Just over a stones throw from Castlemilk, where he grew up. 

The schemes of the 'milk and the stories of what Gerry got up to in his younger days are told through his songs. I can only imagine what was going through Gerry's mind in the build up to these shows and during them.

What a journey Gerry has been on. I hope he writes a book one day as it's been truly incredible. I met Gerry a number of times through his band The Cinnamons and in his early solo days. I've caught him at venues across Glasgow ranging from record stores to Stereo, The Admiral to The Barrowland and then the Hydro. 

What a ride! The way people have fallen for his songs and also for his personality (cheeky, quick witted and very honest) has been extraordinary. 

My days of going to stadium shows are gone. They are simply too big for me. But I was delighted that my friend Ryan Davidson, from Castlemilk, was up for documenting these historic shows. Ryan blogged on Gerry's ABC show back in November 2016, a year before Gerry released his debut album Erratic Cinematic

Photo from Gerry's socials by Anthony Mooney

Online and in person, people talked of their excitement of going to see him and then of the amazing night out they had. It sounded like this generation's Maine Road/Knebworth, events by another songwriter (and his band) who burst out of a council  estate. Loads of people I knew were going to see Gerry - many for the first time.

Gerry has reached and set new heights - it's incredible! 

Noel Gallagher knows how much Live Forever, Slide Away, Acquiesce, Wonderwall & Don't Look Back In Anger mean to people.  

Gerry knows, beyond doubt, how much his songs mean to people, how they make people feel.

The beauty of Keysies, the free flowing truth of Sometimes with a guitar riff many would kill for, the humour and (self) advice coming out of Canter and the stunning here comes the rain refrain, or the heartfelt romance and self realisation in Fickle McSelfish ...

Over to Ryan for his review;

Photo from Gerry's socials

Two years is a long time to wait for anything

But for fans of Gerry Cinnamon, two years was worth the wait.

In 2019 Gerry Cinnamon announced a special homecoming show at Scotland's national stadium, Hampden Park, with a stunning promo video showing his iconic artwork in the centre circle of the hallowed turf.

There were detractors online that claimed he wouldn't sell it out and that he wasn't yet big enough for a stadium show.

How wrong were they?

The show sold out in record time, promoting a second night, announced midway through 2021. Two nights at the national stadium by an independent artist with no major label backing? From here, everyone knew it was going to be a special weekend.

Fast forward two years and a global pandemic, the new dates were set.

The atmosphere outside the stadium and in the local pubs was one of anticipation. People were clearly buzzing for the gig.

Contrary to the uninformed opinions of a few on Twitter, the crowd was very mixed; teenagers, families, young kids, older people. It had a festival vibe in and around the stadium.

Photo from Gerry's socials

The support line up was stunning too. The Snuts, Jake Bugg and The Charlatans got the crowd ready for the headliner. Once The Charlatans came off stage you could feel the excitement building. The change over on stage felt like a lifetime as the screens shared some messages for the crowd, a personal favourite being "Don't be a dick!"

Then it was time for the main event. The roar of the crowd as the screens changed to count down. A "loading" graphic charged up the crowd to 100% before KC & The Sunshine Band hit Give It Up came blasting through the PA promoting 50,000 people to scream Gerry's name in tune to the song.

Gerry comes on stage like a wean on a bouncy castle, just as excited as everyone else in the stadium. You can tell right away he's up for it.

The opening drum loop beat to Lullaby has the place bouncing too, the stadium in full voice before the singing even starts.

The school bell ringing intro signified fans favourite Sometimes and the fast paced lyrics roll of his tongue with ease. Two songs in and the place is a riot.

Photo from Gerry's socials

What Have You Done and Ghost ride seamlessly into Fortune Favours The Bold.

I know it's a long shot

But I heard fortune favours the bold

There's nothing fortunate about the success of Gerry Cinnamon. Before he found mainstream success, he was one of the hardest working musicians in the country. Some people might have thought he was an overnight success but the people of Glasgow have known his name for a long time. Maybe few people could have seen him playing a gig of this size, but these two nights at the national stadium weren't a surprise to some of us that have followed his career from the start.

Sun Queen gets a warm reception as Gerry slips into the opening line sing my songs, never thought I'd make it this far. Feels like irony given his confidence and natural stage presence. One man filling the stage in a stadium takes some doing.

My favourite song, Fickle McSelfish, feels like a short film, the lyrics telling the story of two lovers in turmoil as a man comes to terms with his selfish ways and failure to admit he's in love. It's just beautiful.

I'm so lonely

Won't you come and chase my blues away

And if you want to you can even stay

Photo from Gerry's socials

Dark Days and Roll the Credits round off the first half of the set.

The opening riff to Belter rings around the stadium and everyone sings the opening line at the top of their voice like it's the new national anthem. This has become an iconic song and it feels like a special moment in the set.

No happy endings unless fairytales come true

New song Sacred was the first time the crowd had to pause and let Gerry sing, a gorgeous ballad with full band backing. It was at this moment I realised there was a live band behind the screens on stage.

War Song Soldier, from The Bonny,  was a song that some/many would have recognised from the days of The Cinnamons and Gerry's first solo gigs.  

The title track of Gerry's second album is another inspiring anthem about building your own dreams, another fitting song for the occasion. 

Believe and build yer Bonny

Gonna never know unless you try

Photo from Gerry's socials

The intro to Mayhem sounded epic with a beautiful nod to Glasgow artist Ross Muir in the visuals on the big screen behind him.

Diamonds In The Mud was a set highlight. Every word hit home about this place we grew up. Our city, our culture and our people. Our song. A reminder, if anyone needed it, of growing up in the heart of the scheme. A song that's autobiographical for Gerry and half the crowd.

When I lie awake in the night these things I remember

Some happy, some sad, bring a smile to my face when I'm doon

90's anthem Discoland (old blog HERE) closed the set before Gerry left the stage, to prepare for the encore.

A stunning rendition of I Wish I Was In Glasgow is a fitting tribute to the Big Yin and another reminder of Gerry's influences. Both can tell tales, both can bring people together, both make people smile. 

Where We're Going sounded magical with the full band playing behind him, before the penultimate song of the night, Kampfire Vampire, a song about the music industry and the vultures that circle the talent pool for profit.

Schools, run by fools, leave to get education

Wake, from your sleep, or learn to love your sedation

Before the final song, Gerry gives a gracious thank you to the crowd. You can tell it means the world to him. He's sang his heart out for 90-minutes to 50,000 people in our national stadium. But then again, I've seen him give just as much in front of 100 people.

Gerry is an authentic artist, someone that writes from the heart and sings from the soul. That, for me, is why he's loved by fans not only in Glasgow but across the UK (and beyond). Cinnamon speaks a language people understand, he tells stories most of us could be the protagonist in and allows us to share these moments with him.

Canter opens with the words this is the beginning of the rest of your life and closes with an incredible firework display through a rousing chorus to draw the curtain on a truly phenomenal show.

Because the hardest part of the game, isnae even playing the game

It's caring enough to care about the things that you're dain'

As people head for the exits, Canter comes back on through the PA and everyone to a person sings every single word in the concourse, out to the surrounding streets and on into the night.

It was quite literally a perfect set, mixed with a blend of acoustic ballads and stories of the scheme, with stomping beat led anthems of hope and dreams. Every song sounded like it belonged in that stadium.

The visuals and backdrop also deserve a mention as they perfectly complimented each song in turn and brought the show to life.

The music industry wasn't ready for Gerry Cinnamon, a iconclast that does things his way, success built on the music and not an Instagram personality, or someone constantly giving TV interviews for exposure. He's achieved what record companies have thrown millions of pounds at and failed. He's single handedly re-written the rule book and torn it up himself. 

Hampden was special, nights of cultural significance. The 90's had Oasis at Knebworth and this felt equally as important for Scottish music, one for this generation of young people.

And it begs the question. Is Gerry Cinnamon the greatest solo act of all time?

It's a yes from me.

And the frightening thing? It feels like he's only just getting started.

Ryan K.Davidson

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