Music for Maggie's - Here Comes The Sun album launch @ Maggie's Cancer Caring Centre, Glasgow
Sunday 28th March 2010 - the day when the clocks spring forward and supposedly signal the start of British summer time. It was with this in mind that I named the album I had compiled 'Here Comes The Sun', knowing that the launch would fall on this date.
Sadly, the skies were grey, not blue, with a hint of rain in the air when I arrived at Maggie's Centre in the West End of Glasgow. I work for the charity and when Maggie's announced that their first charity day would be called Love Maggie's Day and encourage people to do something they love, or something for someone they love, I thought I would lead by example and curate and compile a cd of some of my favourite Glasgow bands and artists.
I was thrilled by the response from the artists. Within an a couple of hours of sending the initial email 'Closing Doors' by The Moth & The Mirror had dropped into my inbox. That set the tone for the rest of the album as a whole host of outstanding songs came my way.
I decided to have an intimate and informal launch night at Maggie's Glasgow Centre - keeping with the kind of atmosphere that Maggie's itself aims to create in their centres. Three bands were on the bill, it was bring your own bottle and there was plenty of tea and cakes to go around.
Kicking off the night was Kevin from Little Eskimos. There is a large room at Maggie's Glasgow that is used for practical workshops that help people living with cancer. Relaxation and Stress Management workshops are extremely popular (as you can imagine for people going through a life-changing experience), Look Good Feel Better is a workshop for women living with cancer that does exactly what it says on the tin and helps them adjust to changes in their appearance, there are Tai Chi sessions, writing classes and art therapy.
I've seen so much go on in the Centre and it felt extremely natural for music to take a place in that room. People were sitting on the sofas and chairs with a beer of cup of tea as Kevin took to the 'stage area' at the back of the room.
Without a warm up Little Eskimos immediately launched into a passionate song entitled (I think) 'The Sailor Song'. Kevin's voice was warm and inviting and not a word was spoken during the length of the song. Warm applause greeted the end before Kevin introduced 'Get Yourself Together Kid', the song that Little Eskimos donated to the Maggie's album. It is a stunning song, catchy, emotive and punchy in all the right places. After a further song that I can't remember, Little Eskimos then played a lovely song called 'Mixtapes' all about love, making up, breaking up and mixtapes, before ending with an outstanding cover of Bowie's 'Five Years'. With some of the audience currently living with cancer the lyrics were powerful and certainly made me think 'we've got five years, that’s all we got'. No-one knows how long they have, or at least very few, but I guess when you have a critical illness it must be something you consider.
After a break for tea and cake Sonny Marvello took to the stage and won some new fans with their witty banter and fabulous songs. Knowing Sonny Marvello as I do, I knew the songs on their set off by heart, yet their semi acoustic set was a little slowed down and stipped back and again the setting of the centre made some of their lyrics stand out.
'Made of Magic' the song on the Here Comes The Sun CD is truly beautiful and the line 'wherever you go, I'll follow that star, you are my only lifeline' caused my spine to tingle. 'Pull Me Up' is an upbeat number that never fails to get people tapping their feet or nodding along in appreciation. 'We're All Cruel', the bands current single, is an epic and the line 'why are your eyes still streaming, don't cry unless you mean it' hit me harder than it had done previously. It was quite an emotional night. There were three guys in the audience that I have got to know well from their use of Maggie's and I know that there have been times when they must have been crying recently.
It was a brilliant set and Stephen Farrell, lead singer, charmed the crowd with his banter about Bowie's drummer failing to realise the song 'Five Years' (that Little Eskimos covered) had ended while he was playing it on The Old Grey Whistle Test. That coupled with mini-mock arguments about what song to play next before settling on the gorgeous 'Don't Wanna Be Held' with it's 60's groove certainly kept people entertained.
After another break it was on to headliners Pooch who played a particularly emotional set. Laura Boyd, on lead vocals, was diagnosed with cancer last year and has visited Maggie's a couple of times. So a number of Laura's family and friends came along to support her.
For those of you unfamiliar with Pooch, they are normally a stomping electro pop band with an energetic live set that involves the four of them hurtling about the stage. While I would quite liked to have seen that, as I was in charge of the centre for the night I was quite relieved that they played a stripped back electro-acoustic set, so nothing was broken!
In all seriousness I was spellbound by Pooch's short 4-song set that they had worked on especially for the night. It showcased their talent, songwriting and in particular Laura's vocal strengths. It could be viewed as lazy journalism to compare Laura to Karen O from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, but that comparison and with a hint of Beth Ditto from the Gossip was the one that immediately sprung to mind.
With bassist Roddy playing acoustic guitar, drummer Kirsten playing electronic drum pads and a bit of synth and guitarist Stephen also on acoustic guitar, the stripped back set allowed the songs space to breath. The opener captivated the crowd with Laura's vocals rising and falling as the song demanded. Second song in was Masquerade off the Maggie's CD and the band really got into it with Kirsten somehow managing to do about three things at once during the song.
A new song was introduced as being without a title, before it was confirmed on the spot. It was a fragile beauty sung by Roddy and Laura as a duet. It possibly generated the loudest response of the night and again emphasised the songwriting qualities of the band, something that can often be overlooked with a lot of electro acts. The closing song (the name escapes me) closed a fantastic night and there was time for cups of tea and more cake before the centre closed.
The centre was ideal for a small night like this and I will certainly consider putting on a night there in the future.
To buy the Here Comes The Sun cd for Maggie's visit http://musicformaggies.bandcamp.com/album/here-comes-the-sun and for more info on Maggie's visit www.maggiescentres.org
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