Friday 29 August 2008

Connect previw

This Sunday I am heading off to the Connect Music Festival at Inverarary Castle. I missed the first Connect festival last year when I was travelling and I was pretty gutted. The 2007 line-up had to be a contender for the best and most eclectic line-up of the festival season. Artists appearing included The Beastie Boys, Bjork, LCD Soundsystem, CSS, The Go Team!, Echo and the Bunnymen, Primal Scream, Mogwai, Big Star, The Polyphonic Spree, Hot Chip, personal favourites Teenage Fanclub and Jesus & Marychain.

That is a staggering line-up. Somewhat predictably, yet still disappointingly, the 2008 line-up doesn't reach those standards. My girlfriend and I originally thought about going for the full 3 days, but the  line-up didn't quite convince us that it was worth £150 each and the absolutely attrocious weather in Scotland didn't go any further towards helping us make our minds up that it would be a great weekend camping in an amazing location.

Friday has it's attractions for me, mainly on the Guitars and Other Bands stage - psychedelic indie popsters Mercury Rev headline and are supported by The Breeders. Steve Malkmus and the Jicks would be intersting to see, as would Ladytron. But the main stage line-up, headlined by Kasabian and backed up by the Manics, Amy MacDonald and The Guillemots is really nothing to write home about. Not worth the equivalent of £50 for the day.

Saturday fares slightly better with the excellent Spiritualized on the main stage along with Conor Oberts and Nick Caves Grinderman. Headliners Bloc Party don't do it for me, although I have to admit that their singer has an excellent voice. Elsewhere Glasgow band Glasvegas will be out to justify the hype surrounding them ahead of their final festival appearance before their album is released and the always entertaining Gossip headline the other stage. The Roots could steal the show in the dance tent.

But it is Sunday that has caught my attention with the excellent, creative and inspiring Sigur ros playing second on the bill to Franz Ferdinand. Franz Ferdinand may have some outstanding power pop tunes, but their work will be cut out to follow the Icelandic band and their majestic music. I am also looking forward to Elbow, a vastly under-rated band with huge musical ambitions.

Stay tuned to find out how it all goes…..

Tuesday 19 August 2008

The Beep Seals, Norman Blake & St Deluxe

On Friday I attended the Glasgow msuic institution that is Nice 'n' Sleazys. It's more nice than sleazy these days, but it still has that low vibe indie feeling to it that makes it special. The main reason I was there was due to the fact that Norman Blake was playing a solo support slot to the main band The Beep Seals. Glasgow band St Deluxe were also supporting, making it excellent value for the £7 pay on the door ticket. 

I did make the mistake of going out straight after work, so after several beers in the Variety Bar along the road and with no food in my belly I rolled into Sleazys with my friend Lorna around 8.20pm, in time to see St Deluxe play their full set. St Deluxe play with a genuine passion that other bands can only dream of. There is no posing, no ridiculous haircuts, trilby hats, skinny jeans or waistcoats. They play real indie rock, crediting My Bloody Valentine, Dinosaur Jr and Jesus & Marychain among their influences. Their fuzzy scuzzy indie rock with a tinge of pop went down well with the crowd that grew the longer their set went on. They are well worth checking out

By the time Norman Blake took to the stage I was pretty hammered. He played a set of cover versions, starting off with a beautiful Scottish folk song and then playing 60's pop tunes including 'Baby Lee' (complete with backing from The Beep Seals). It was fantastic to see Norman in such a small venue and if you do a search on YouTube you will find videos of his set.

I was thoroughly impressed by The Beep Seals and I would have bought their album after the gig if I hadn't spent all my money on beer by that point. They hail from Manchester and are very fanclub-esque, with beautiful harmonies, great chord changes and a real fun-time pop attitude. Norman got on stage at the end to play a brilliant version of the Fanclub classic 'The Concept', with three guitars duelling at the end. Lovely.

I rolled in my flat at midnight and needless to say Saturday was a complete write-off. Top night out.

Tuesday 5 August 2008

Glasgow is quite a small city, it's almost like a large town. I think that this is one of the main reasons that, as a music fan, I honestly believe there can't be many better cities in the world to live in. London will always have more going on due to it's size, but travelling from one side to another can take hours. New York City will always be hip and happening, but are the crowd 'too cool for school?'

Manchester must be near the top of the list as it has spawned at least half a dozen legendary bands and always has loads going in in underground pubs and clubs, idependent labels and it also has the absolutely outstanding Piccadily Records.

But let's get back to Glasgow. In terms of venues Glasgow has two that could be considered truly 'world famous', KIng Tuts Wah Wah Hut and the Glasgow Barrowlands. Thrown in local favourite Nice'n'Sleazys, the tiny but brilliant 13th Note, Mono, the cavernous SECC, The Carling Academy, The Arches, Stereo, Classic Grand, Renfrew Ferry, The Box, Oran Mor and many local pubs and clubs and you always have something going on.

Tuts and the Barrowlands are my favourites, so my favourite gigs from there are listed below

In addition to the dozens of venues in Glasgow there are some excellent record shops. FOPP in Byres Road  - ideal for building up your cd collection as many are only £5, Mono in Kings Court - a gig venue, bar, vegan restaurant and record shop all rolled into one, Avalanche around the corner from Queen Street Station, Oxfam Records in Byres Road and one that I am very fond of - Mixed Up Records in Otago Lane, next to the funky Tchai Ovna tea house.

But, and this is a cliché, though it is true, it is the people that make Glasgow such a vibrant musical city. It's the peoples passion for dancing, having a good time, singing, socialising, finding new sounds, discovering old ones that ensures there is always scope for a gig or club night for any kind of music on any scale. Glasgow Barrowlands has been nominated by bands and fans alike as the best venue in the country and many who have attended gigs there will liken the atmosphere to a cup final.

This blog will tell tales of music in glasgow, featuring gig reviews, single/album reviews, previews and genreal music musings. Read on to check out some of my all-time favourite gigs. 

With a capacity of only 250 King Tuts is an ideal place to catch up and coming bands, as well as the occasional secret gig by an established band or a comeback from a 60's legend. My top 5 favourite gigs at King Tuts would probably be (in no particular order):

Arthur Lee and Love

I was lucky enough to catch Arthur Lee and Love (backing band Baby Lemonade) 3 times at King Tuts. Each time was memorable but I'll never forget the first time. No-one knew what to expect as Arthur was not long out of prison and there were rumours that his voice had been destroyed through years of heroin abuse. Lee quickly out paid to those rumours and soared through classics from the legendary Forever Changes album, holding the audience spellbound with a spine tingling rendition of 'You Set The Scene'.


As a young 18-year old I caught Beck at King Tuts just after he released 'Loser'. To this day I don't think I have seen the venue so packed. People were literally hanging off the ceiling to catch him live, such was the buzz around him. Beck's set didn't disappoint and he romped through tunes that encompassed a variety of styles - hip-hop, lo-fi, acoustic, indie, rock. An amazing night.

White Stripes

An electrifying gig. I hadn't heard much of The White Stripes before this gig. I got tickets for me and my friend on the strength of a John Peel recommendation and an article that either appeared in Mojo or Uncut. Jack White took to the centre of the stage with Meg on drums to his right. He seemd to be playing a beat up old acoustic guitar that was covered in paper and he romped through songs, some lasting a minute or less. Stand out tracks were a McCartney-esque 'Pretty Good Looking (for a girl)' and 'Jolene' with White spitting out every word and sweat dripping from his brow.

The Pastels, April 1994

Another gig when I was 18, mainly remembered for being the night that Kurt Cobain died. Remember, in 1994 no-one had a mobile and there was no internet. As soon as I arrived at Tuts with my friend Grant we heard the rumours that Kurt had shot himself. We didn't know what to believe, no-one could confirm it. I remember a support band called Lungleg being so gloriously shambolic that I nievely asked the singer if it was their first ever gig! She looked quite surprised and soon set me right. The Pastels took to the stage and made some kind of announcement that tonights gig was dedicated to Kurt Cobain, but they didn't mention much else. On the way home the John Peel show had been cancelled and Radio 1 played Nirvana Peel Sessions on loop. That confirmed the rumours but not in so many words. A night I will always remember. I still have my Nirvana ticket for the gig they were meant to be playing at Glasgow's SECC, I couldn't bear to return it for a refund.

John Squire

I caught Squire twice at Tuts, the second time was a secret gig that I managed to get tickets for as I was in Tuts for a beer when it was announced. I went along with my brother Ross and our friend Dougal and we were lucky to witness one of the best openings to a gig ever. Squire came on stage with his band and immediately launched into the closing instrumental of 'I Am The Resurrection'. I was literally rubbing my eyes in disbelief and recovered in time to jump down the front for Squire bursting straight into 'She Bang The Drums'. No-one can argue that Squire is a good singer, but with the crowd singing along he just played guitar. BRILLIANT!

Glasgow Barrowlands


1994 again and that December I caught Oasis twice. The first time Liam walked off after losing his voice. Noel played on acoustically and then with the band and the band rescheduled fo Boxing Day. It was an electrifying gig with the band tearing through their debut album and bsides and the band singing along word for word. A band truly on top form.

Primal Scream

I can't remember what year this was but the Scream were supported by the Jesus & Marychain. They were on top form, rejuvenated by the addition of Mani on bass and they tore through their back catalogue. The highlight was the Farley mix of 'Come Together', totally euphoric. Bobby Gillespe was everything you could want in a front man.

New Order

When a band with a back catalogue like New Order play The Barrowlands you know it's going to be a party. With songs like 'Regret', 'Temptation', 'Bizarre Love Triangle' and 'Blue Monday' it was like an old skool rave.


A total and utter party that left me smiling for weeks afterwards. I don't think I will ever experience another ovation like the band got after they played 'Born Slippy'.

The Verve

The Verve were playing the Barrowlands just after 'Bittersweet Symphony' and I didn't have a ticket. Luck came my way when someone at work advertised a ticket for sale on the day of the gig. I went along myself and was blown away by The Verve who opened with 'A New Decade' before ripping into 'This Is Music' and raising the roof later in the set with 'Bittersweet Symphony'.