Sunday 24 November 2013

Dedicated followers of music

The live music scene in Glasgow, at least to me, hasn't show any sign of being effected by the economic crisis that the country has been suffering for the last 5-years. Indeed, with the addition of the Hydro it seems to be growing from strength to strength.

We like to be entertained, even if times are tough, that is just another reason to go out and forget about reality, to get lost in music.

It does come at a financial cost though. I don't get out to quite as many gigs as I used to, although I still do pretty well!

I've become friends with a lovely couple called Gordon and Heidi; couple of music nuts who I bump into regularly at shows and who are big fans of the Vigo Thieves. I thought I would interview them to display just how dedicated people can be. 

I love their answers, they really highlight the passion of Scottish gig goers, not to mention the variety of musical taste and their dedication to going to live shows. It is people like Gordon and Heidi that generate such a good name for a Scottish audience throughout the world.

1. Can you introduce yourselves and tell us about some of your favourite bands and artists?

 I`m Gordon , 47 and I work as a Fork Lift Driver with William Grant and Sons . I have two kids from a previous marriage aged 24 and 22

I`m Heidi , 46 going on 25 and I`m originally from Weert in Holland although I`ve stayed here in Scotland for 10 years now . I work in Tunnocks right now

I like to think that my musical taste is pretty varied but if I pick the bands that I keep going back to listen to then it would be The Jam , Ocean Colour Scene, Bob Marley ( both in his ska and reggae days ) Biffy Clyro and Mr Johnny Cash . There are a few bands about today that might end up on the list eventually . Augustines , Kodaline , Kasabian and The Avett Brothers spring to mind

In my younger days I was into heavy rock , Black Sabbath , Iron Maiden and Judas Priest and I still listen to them . I`ve also always loved Journey . As I`ve mellowed with age I`ve found Biffy Clyro and the Arctic Monkeys , although Elvis will always have a special place in my heart as I grew up listening to him with my dad . Apart from “ metal “ Gordon and I have very similar tastes in music

2. Who, when and where did you see live for the first time?

Journey were the first band I ever saw live in Anaheim , California in July 1982 and I was pretty much hooked on live music right there and then . I worked backstage at various venues in Nevada for a while and it was a job that I loved .

The first band I saw live was The Jam at the Apollo in Glasgow in the early 80`s , I also used to go and see a friends band , The Druids, in Bellshill around that time as well . It made me aware that it wasn`t just big bands out there and that plenty of good music was available by watching unsigned local bands

As a couple the first band we saw was Dogs Die In Hot Cars at Balado in 2004

3. Do you have any idea of how many gigs and festivals you have been to this year?

I had to go and trail through our box of ticket stubs , we keep them all along with the setlists that Heidi manages to grab , and we make it 24 gigs and 2 festivals .

We always try for 2 festivals a year , Wickerman and something else .

4. What have been your top 5 musical highlights so far this year?

These are all in no particular order

Chic at Wickerman . If you were there then you will know why and if you weren`t or left early to go see Stiff Little Fingers then you really missed something special

Aye apparently this is the case and Heidi enjoys reminding me just how good they were after we left , my cousin and I watched 30 minutes and then scarpered up to the Scooter tent for SLF . I have to say that they were a bit of a let down

Watching Vigo Thieves playing a sold out gig at the Arches . We have followed this Wishaw based band for a long time now and we have got to know the guys really well , they are a cracking bunch of lads and when we first saw them at Maggie Mays it was in front of 6 people .

From that to the Arches was amazing , they deserve a bigger audience for certain . This year should be their year .

Ed Kowalczyk ( former lead singer of Live ) played King Tuts in September and it was incredible to see him there , I saw the band play years ago in stadium venues and to be there as he played such an intimate gig was a real highlight for me

I went to this gig for Heidi as I`d never heard of him but he put on a real show , when he played Lightning Crashes I had to laugh at Heidi standing with tears in her eyes.

We differ on the last two;

The Stone Roses at Glasgow Green for me , 23 years was a long time to wait 

Being asked to fake play the saxophone on stage with Vigo Thieves at Wickerman , just because it gave the weekend a right good giggle at the end 

Suede at The Barrowlands because it was a new experience  for me , I went because of Gordon as they weren`t that big in Holland and I had heard of a couple of their songs but that's all . They were absolutely fantastic .

Kings Of Leon at Bellahouston park . Last time we saw them they were going through the motions and had major problems within the band . This time they all seemed to be loving what they did again and the nailed the gig .

5. We are really in thick of gig season right now. What gigs have you been to in November?

Stereophonics ( Hydro) , Kodaline ( ABC ) , Deap Vally ( Oran Mor ) , Vampire Weekend ( Hydro ) Arctic Monkeys ( Hydro ) , The Lumineers ( Corn Exchange ) The Editors ( Barrowlands ) . This has been an exceptionally busy month for us

(It certainly has been!)
6. What do you have coming up in advance?
At the moment we have Australian Pink Floyd , Chrvches , Elbow , The Begbies and The Eagles booked for next year .

7. Do you have a special account for ticket money or anything?

We don`t really but we are lucky that we both work . We tend to be able to afford to go to whatever we want although we baulked at paying over a hundred quid each for Fleetwood Mac at The Hydro . We regretted not going for it almost immediately .

8. Is there anyone you haven't seen that you would like to see?

As I will never see Pink Floyd I`ll leave them out . Just now there are a few that we haven`t been able to go and see for one reason or another . Muse , Foo Fighters , Arcade Fire for me . We can add Pearl Jam and Metallica to those . In terms of venues I`d like to visit Red Rocks in Denver and Paradiso in Amsterdam.

9. What do you think of the music scene in Scotland?

(Answer for both)

The music scene in Scotland for touring acts is superb , there are plenty of great venues out there . It seems to us that plenty of bands want to come here because the crowds tend to know their stuff . There always seems  to be a huge difference in crowds from Edinburgh and Glasgow , east coast crowds tend to be less rowdy .

Venue wise we have more than our fair share of crackers . For us both nothing beats the barrowlands . The sound in there is always spot on and even though the place hasn't really aged well it still has a feel to it . The Vigo`s played there earlier this year supporting The Fratelli`s and I( Gordon ) managed to blag a back stage pass ( Cheers Murray ) and so I watched the gig from the side of the stage

The scene out there for up and coming bands is what they want to make of it . Glasgow has plenty of great small venues , Tuts , Nice and Sleazys , Maggie Mays , Broadcast and The Old Hairdressers to name but a few and they are all excellent for bands coming through . There are plenty of opportunities to get out and take in live music . Keep an eye out for a trio called Calm Fiasco , relatively new and sound pretty tight . There are no excuses for folk who love music not to get out there and take in gigs .

10. What have been your all-time 3 top gigs/shows that you have been to?

Pink Floyd in Rotterdam . It was Pink Floyd , 2 1/2 hours of musical and visual heaven . It felt
like being hypnotised en masse . An amazing experience .

Faithless at The Barrowlands in 2005 . I`d seen them 6 times before but we were almost at the front and the whole crowd just bounced for the entire show , it was special 

Bruce Springsteen in Holland in the early 2000`s . It was with the E Street band and the Boss is unbelievable . No visuals or gimmicks just the man giving it hell for 3 hours . His energy brings the crowd along with him .

Faithless at The Barrowlands in 2005 . Heidi won tickets via XFM and Maxi and Bliss just played their hearts out . I ended up shirtless at the front bouncing about like I was 19 instead of 39 . Insomnia is up there with the greatest tunes of all times in my opinion.

Sigur Ros at Connect in 2008 . Its hard to out this gig into words . Sigur Ros are a musical orgasm , just an incredible noise from them . The setting of Inveraray at dusk with a low sunset lighting up the background made it even more special . It was as close as I`ve come to a religious experience at a music event , it felt as if no-one else was there other than Heidi , I and the band . (I was at this and have to agree that it was very special)

Stone Roses at Glasgow Green June 1990 - June 2013 , The later gig felt like a continuation of the previous one , except we had all aged considerably .

11. Is there anything you dislike about going to live shows?

People too drunk to know where they are and people throwing pints . Why someone would pay that sort of money to be blitzed and not remember the experience is nothing short of a mystery to me  . Anyone throwing drink is just a prick , excuse the language , I can`t add anything to that .

Excessive use of camera phones , people using camera phones and camera phones . Put them away and just enjoy the gig , for Gods sake . Drunks and by that I mean the same as Gordon. Ticket prices are sometimes steeper than they should be
12. Who would you like to see play;

a) The Hydro
b) The Barrowlands
c) King Tuts Wah Wah Hut

a) Muse for me . Metallica for me
b) Augustines , the Barrowlands would suit them down to a tee . I`d like to see Kasabian in here 
c) Anyone , Tuts is a special place no matter who plays it

Together we love music , it keeps us young . We`ll be gigging in our 70`s if we are still here

Why would we ever stop ?

Friday 22 November 2013

Sigur Ros at the Usher Hall, Edinburgh

Another guest blog review from Dave Taylor 

Dave and I went to see the incredible Sigur Ros in Edinburgh on Monday.

Sigur Ros - Usher Hall, Edinburgh 18th November 2013

When Icelandic Post Rock trio, Sigur Ros, took to the stage in Edinburgh on Monday night, the weather outside was more like their home city of Rekyavik, with temperatures plummeting, but the atmosphere inside the magnificent Usher Hall was hot with anticipation.

When the lights went down, a huge curtain hung across the front of the stage. As the opening notes of Yfirboro rang out, silhouettes of the band were projected onto the curtain, with the visuals projected from behind as the falsetto voice of Jonsi filled the hall. The curtain remained for Vaka, as the lights made the silhouetted figures grow and move around the stage. The curtain fell as Brennisteinn, the opening track from this years Kveikur album, exploded in a wave of strobe lights, revealing no fewer than 11 musicians on stage, Kjartan Sveinsson who left the band earlier this year, the notable absencee.

The spine tingling Glosoli from 2005’s Takk album delighted the crowd, the sound produced was amazing, Jonsi’s vocals complimented by a brass and string section. The new material from Kveikur definitely takes the band in a different direction from previous work, with a darker, more aggressive edge to it, and the mix of it along with more familair songs, was proving popular. The stage was set up with many single bulbs on stands that pulsed in time with the music, making for a spectacualr scene as the large screen behind the stage showed visuals. The power of the music is incredible, but you could see just how much work had been put into the lighting and visuals to compliment it.

As the set moved on, the advert friendly, nature documentary accompanying Hoppipolla proved popular, as did Festival that brought the set to a close.

It wasn’t long before they were back for the encore, 1999’s Svefn-g-englar is one of the most recognisable tunes, but still stunning to hear live. The show closed with what was the highlight for me, Popplagio starts gently, and builds to a great crescendo of noise, it’s hard to put into words the hypnotic properties as Jonsi stood centre stage, hunched over his guitar, in a cloud of smoke, pierced by bursts of stroboscopic lights, as chaotice white noise filled the screen, while flawless haunting vocals filled the hall. After nearly 20 minutes, the song drew to a close, with lights flashing and ears ringing as the crowd headed back out into the cold night.

Full Set List
1. Yfirboro
2. Vaka
3. Brennisteinn
4. Glosoli
5. E-bow
6. Stormur
7. Hrafntinna
8. Saeglopur
9. Varuo
10. Hoppipolla

11. Meo Bloonasir 
12. Rafstaumur 
13. Kveikur
14. Festival

15. Svefn-g-englar 
16. Popplagio 

Saturday 16 November 2013

Arcade Fire at Glasgow Barrowland, Friday 15th November 2013

Guest blogger - Dave Taylor 

When Arcade Fire announced they had a new album coming out, you expected them to tour it. Such is their pull, The Hydro or The SECC would seem like logical venues, but when the news broke that they were playing 2 nights at The Barrowlands under the pseudonym of The Reflektors, you just knew it was going to be a special night.

After a miltary style operation to secure tickets (they sold out in 5 minutes), we could start looking forward to the show. The fact there was only 2 weeks from buying the tickets to the first night, seemed to heighten the anticipation and the sense of occasion, especially as the tickets stipulated formal attire or fancy dress were mandatory.

The Barrowlands when tweeting the stage times, hinted that there might be a wee surprise in store for those turning up early, so for the first time in years, we got there early and queued up. It was a magical sight seeing so many people in tuxedos and bow ties, clown suits, Super Mario, and even God was there. 

There were rumours that the band would come out and play a song to the crowd, sadly this didn’t happen, but when a stretched limo rolled, everyone waited with baited breath. A Mexican mariachi band came out, followed by the band, or at least people wearing paper mache heads of the band. Then the first couple of hundred fans, us included, got invited up to the ballroom to rehearse a choreographed routine to be played out during “We Exist”, it was quite a sight, a skeleton leading a couple of hundred dressed up Scots through a dance routine, not your normal gig!

There was a real buzz about the crowd, a sense that we were the lucky ones that managed to get tickets, knowing glances were exchanged between dressed up punters awaiting the bands arrival, the paper mache band danced with the crowd as the anticipation grew.

There was a large black curtain covering the stage with The Reflektors logo projected onto it. Around 2030, this dropped to reveal the band, all wearing masks. The set kicked off straight into the current single, Reflektor, then straight into Flashbulb Eyes. With Reflektor being the bands 4th studio album, they have a large back catalogue to pick from, next up was Neighbourhood #3 (Power Out) from 2004’s Funeral.

The set was loaded with songs from Reflektor, it’s a different sound from the band, with the influence of James Murphy being obvious, the new work has a great life and vibrancy to it and it works really well live, the crowd danced its way through You Already Know, We Exist, complete with the choreographed moves from earlier, It’s Never Over and Afterlife, complete with acapella intro, before they took us back to 2010’s The Suburbs with Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains), the older stuff was being lapped up by the crowd. 

Next up was Normal Person, where Butler suggested that if anyone fancied crowd surfing, the chorus would be a good time to do so, he wouldn’t have been disappointed as a few eager fans duely obliged. Next up, Win donned a huge paper mache head to rock through a cover of DEVO’s Uncontrollable Urge, then the set closed with Here Comes The Night Time, as the crowd danced as one to the Haitian grooves as glitter cannons exploded overhead.

After a short rest, the band were back on for the encore, first up was Haiti. Then Win announced that they had been saving this for a special occasion, before launching into Wake Up, the crowd went crazy for this one, it hadn’t been played at the previous two London shows or any of the warm up shows, and it sounded massive, the whole venue was dancing and bouncing as one. Fans could be heard singing it long into the night as we walked back to get our train.

The whole night was amazing, I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a better gig, but it wasn’t just a gig, it was an experience, the sense of occasion that built from the tickets going on sale, through the fancy dress shopping ensured this was never going to be just a gig, but a night I’ll never forget.

Full Set List
1. Reflektor
2. Flashbulb Eyes
3. Neighbourhood #3 (Power Out)
4. Joan of Arc
5. You Already Know
6. We Exist
7. It’s Never Over (Oh Orpheus)
8. Afterlife
9. Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains) 10. Normal Person
11. Uncontrollable Urge (DEVO cover)
12. Here Come The Night Time

13. Haiti
14. Wake Up