Monday 26 May 2014

Prince and 3rdeyegirl at The Hydro

I was in London with work for 2-days so couldn't get to Prince at The Hydro. My friend Gordon Reid was there and kindly agreed to write a blog on his experience…

So the little purple genius and his band 3rdeyegirl were playing the Hydro. The general consensus was that tickets were not going to be cheap and demand was going to take supply round the back of the building and beat the living snot out of it . The consensus was pretty much spot on. At £148 for two standing tickets ( including booking fee ) its a hefty outlay but its Prince Rogers Nelson , Prince for Gods sake . On the day the tickets went on sale the good lady wife sat at the computer with bank card at the ready and three different links open to do the necessary . She failed miserably as by all accounts it sold out in 25 minutes .

It would be a short review if that was the end of the story but thankfully it wasn`t as two weeks later we got a message from Alexander , a Prince daft friend , telling us that there had been a clampdown on people ordering too many tickets and the ones that had been claimed back had been put on sale . Even better he had purchased two and they were ours . Money was transferred rapidly and the funk was on ! Two last E-mails arrived , one telling us that no photography was allowed and the other requesting us to wear something purple . As I`m too old to be told what to do I refused on both counts but the Mrs was happy to go along with it.

We trooped on into the Hydro early doors knowing that there was no support act but we weren`t that surprised as Prince and the band were rumoured to be doing between 2 1/2 and 3 hours . The stage at the Hydro had a huge curtain draped in front and bathed with purple lights . It was apparent quite quickly that the no photographs rule was going to be enforced as security were demanding that people stop taking selfies , a little overkill if you ask me at this point in the evening .

Most of the crowd were wearing something purple as requested and the floor space filled up quickly and the atmosphere started to build from around 7.30pm . Due on stage at 8.00pm its another 20 minutess past that before the house lights went down and a voice boomed out “ Lets Go , Glasgow ” 3 times . The curtain vanishes as if a magician has whipped it away and we were off and running with “LETS GO CRAZY” . Its fair to say that the Hydro obliges .

Its obvious from early doors that Prince and 3rdeyegirl are absolutely ablaze as they belt out hit after hit . 3rdeyegirl consisted of Donna Grantis leading on guitar and sweet baby Jesus that woman can play . From supporting Prince to standing out front herself laying down the funk , the fact that she is drop dead gorgeous ( as are the other two) isn`t lost on anyone in the crowd. Ida Nielsen on bass hardly moves an inch all night but never misses a beat along with Hannah Ford on drums . They are all sorts of bands up there , funk , jazz and rock when the mood and song requires it of them . Watching Prince during the first part of the show is mesmerising . As he plays you see him winking at people in the crowd , blowing kisses and screwing up his face as he makes the guitar talk to everyone . Its all part of the showman and he is clearly having as much fun up there as everyone else in the arena . 

I honestly believe he would have the same passion if there were 12 people in the crowd never mind the 12,000 sell out.

He might be 55 years old but his voice has lost nothing in 30 years . This shows as he still goes through the range to hit those high notes in “KISS“ . The crowd are obedient in the no phone rules and its surprisingly refreshing , even I leave my camera in my pocket and those that know me know that's a bit of a wrench for me.

“FUNKNROLL” sees him bring up some backing dancers from the audience onto the stage . Those people aren`t going to forget that in a hurry and the security guy looks nervous trying to make sure they don`t get too close and still the hits come ; “WHEN DOVES CRY” , “SIGN OF THE TIMES” , “I WOULD DIE 4 U“ and then he`s off stage for the first time and we have a chance to catch our breath . For those of us who are a little older its a welcome relief as the sweat is pouring from us and we`ve been dancing since it kicked off . He comes back out to a wall of noise again and soon we`re partying like it's “1999” . This song is 30 years old but like a good whisky or wine it gets better with age . From there he slips easily into “LITTLE RED CORVETTE” and right there and then he has the whole arena in the palm of his hand . He continues to conduct the crowd throughout demanding that the house lights go up/down and that we sing . He`s toying with us as he enthrals the Hydro by singing “NOTHING COMPARES TO U” in a gospel style with the band slipping easily in to that mode . I actually watched people crying at parts of this , so much for the mean city persona of Glasgow. Even the seated area behind us are on their feet dancing away and at one point he goes over to talk to the ladies of 3rdeyegirl , points up to the higher levels and smiles .

He starts his most iconic song “PURPLE RAIN” on the piano , sings the first verse and leaves the stage on the right to allow the crowd to continue singing the harmony that he played along with the band , taking his time to let it build before casually strolling back in from the left hand side with guitar in hand . He conducts the crowd in one hell of a singalong . Its one of those gig moments that is almost impossible to put into words but you know is going to stay with you for a long time .He launches straight into a cover version of Wild Cherry`s “PLAY THAT FUNKY MUSIC WHITE BOY” and the whole place is off again . As he returns to the piano he asks the crowd “ Do you know how many hits I have , Scotland ? We could be here all night “. We could and not one person would have complained.

Almost 2 1/2 hours this genius and his band played and it didn`t feel long enough . No-one wants him to leave but everything comes to an end and so it does withHOUSEQUAKE” . As he`s left the stage 3 times already nobody leaves just in case but the house lights come up and there seems to be a mixture of sadness that its over but sheer delight at what we have just witnessed . 

What a gig ! What a night ! What a musical genius he is . His ability on the guitar is up there with any of the greats who have wielded the instrument over time .

The time has gone by so quickly that it has been almost impossible to take it all in . To watch a master showman switch so easily between guitar and the piano solos as he played his way through such tunes as “THE BEAUTIFUL ONES” and “DIAMONDS AND PEARLS” like he`s been doing it all his life was beyond words of happiness . The joy he takes from what he does is clearly evident form the smile on his face for the whole time he is on that stage . Oh and I took my camera out when he said it would now be ok to do so.

Will it be the last time we see him in Glasgow ? I truly bloody hope not!

Wednesday 14 May 2014

You're Still Mine by TeenCanteen

Ah summer pop perfection.

TeenCanteen is my sister Carla's band so hands up I have a vested interest in the band, however if she keeps producing pop gems like this then I'll keep blogging about them. This is a beauty.

You're Still Mine is the forthcoming second single from the young Scottish girl quartet, coming out as a self release on 7-inch glitter vinyl and iTunes on 16th June, produce by Lomond Campbell from Scottish arts collective FOUND.

Spector/Wilson-esque lyrics come in over a pulsing synth introducing us to the song, acoustic guitar, high-hats and bass tease and hint at what may come.

I'm not asking you to love me
I'm asking you to tell me why you don't
And I'm not saying honey hold me
I'm saying 'honey tell me why you won't'

It all kicks in gloriously just after a minute for the third verse. The synths soar and the beat kicks in, the 'tearing up your letters, tearing up my eyes' section is clever.

I'm not tearing up your letters
But I'm tearing up my eyes
i'm not making any promise
When I'm breaking through these lies

Sometimes like lately
It feels like you're trying to break me
I need you to save me
Is this what it takes to make you mine

Then comes the beautiful breakdown with finger snaps;

Your hold on me is pulling me down
But I won't give up if this is love
Your grip on me is as cold as steel
But I've never felt anything this real 

repeat once

Handclaps and the Hookiest New Order bassline in years lead a glorious extended outro.

Indie pop song of the year to date. Beautifully written and constructed a-la a Brill Building classic.

Tuesday 13 May 2014

How Long (Change You Into Something Better) by United Fruit

I've heard a few whispers from people on the Glasgow music scene about DIY band United Fruit having a powerful guitar punk pop album that could see the group make significant steps forwards over the next 12-months.

So I was quite pleased when an email popped into my inbox inviting me to check out their teaser track How Long (Change You Into Something Better) which is already earmarked for airplay on Radio 1 this week (indeed this very night on Edith Bowman's review show).

I caught the band last September and was really impressed by their wall of noise, passion and how tight they were on stage, they played 2 songs of their forthcoming second album that sounded superb. Could that translate to record?


There is definitely a sense of pop on this song, on first listen there were some echoes of Bob Mould/Sugar in the choppy guitar chords and throat rasping vocals. United Fruit retain their sense of urgency but this is definitely more commercial/pop for them.

Sugar are not the only American band to spring to mind while listening to United Fruit's new sound. I can imagine this going down a storm on American College Radio - assuming they still play the kind of stuff they used to and not R'n'B!

The chorus is repeated until it is lodged in your head, the vocals are delivered with passion and sneer.

I await the album with interest. United Fruit have been going since 2009 and they've put in the groundwork with their debut album and 5 tours of the UK and Europe. They're not afraid of hard work and they might now have found the sound to take them further.

Will I wait for you?
Well I listen to my heart
It won't last forever
I know we can make this work

I think United Fruit can definitely make this work.

Sunday 11 May 2014

Jimi Goodwin at King Tut's Wah Wah Hut

Last night i headed into King Tut's for a show by Jimi Goodwin from Doves to promote his solo album Odludek, released via the lovely people at Heavenly Records.

Goodwin was backed by a 3-piece band and they played a stormer. The drummer in particular was outstanding.

I think they played the whole album, opening with a massive sounding Terracotta and then into Didsbury Girl. I had a few beers so apologies if the blog isn't quite in order!

Oh Whiskey was played relatively early, a real standout, going all kinds of gorgeous 3-minutes in.

Tut's was sold out and the crowd were egging Goodwin on with Undertones style chants of 'Jimi, Jimi'.

Goodwin switched between bass and acoustic guitar; the acoustic tracks were real highlights for me. Goodwin's voice is soothingly melancholic. Hope was beautiful, as was Lonely At The Drop.

There were a few Doves songs tossed into the mix with The Last Broadcast going down well with all of Tut's singing along with the backing vocal melody.

I really enjoyed the show, Goodwin was clearly delighted with the response to his solo material and somewhat overwhelmed by the reaction to Doves songs. He ended by saying 'No bullshit, you're amazing Glasgow, the best on the tour as always.'

No bullshit Jimi - you played a blinder. Come back soon.

Thursday 1 May 2014

Controversy by Prince

Prince has announced a date at the Hydro on Thursday 22nd May.

I have recently been getting into a lot of Prince's earlier stuff. HIs back catalogue is extensive, eclectic and eccentric.

I was keen to attempt tickets, although slightly put off by the price, ranging from £65-£125. Pretty expensive for a night out when you take a few drinks etc into the equation, especially if you are going as a couple. You're talking £200-£300 for a night out!

That said, Prince doesn't tour very often and he is a bona-fide musical genius.

My own personal debate was solved by the fact that I am actually going to be down in London for 2-days when he is playing. So I'll save money but I will no doubt miss out on a sensational show.

This is my current favourite Prince tune - the 12 inch version of Controversy from the album of the same name that was released away back in 1981. This is incredible.

Good luck to those trying for tickets.

The Fratellis and Vigo Thieves at King Tut's Wah Wah Hut

Last night was the latest in a series of exclusive and intimate charity shows put on by the Sunday Mail for their Sunday Mail 100 fund - aiming to raise £1 million for 17 charities.

It was an opportunity for Vigo Thieves to return to Tut's, a little over 14-months after becoming the first unsigned band to sell out 2 successive nights at the legendary venue.

Tut's was busy when the band took to the stage, launching into the opening Steal Your Heart before Blood Red. Stevie Jukes looked and sounded fantastic, the 6-piece (Chris Cruickshanks joined them on saxophone) were packed on to the tiny stage.

She's On Fire sounded epic, channelling Simple Minds and Cruickshanks ferocious sax solo was a highlight.

Many (including myself) puzzle over the fact that Vigo Thieves remain unsigned. The band fired off 4 songs that are more suitable to stadiums/festivals rather than Tut's. Jukes came down off the stage and raised his hands triumphantly and the crowd responded as Believe kicked in.

This Love was a highlight, flowing superbly before Forever soared - Chris Gorman on keys and synths was in top form on backing vocals.

Heartbeats closed the shorter than normal set. Vigo Thieves had their share of fans in the crowd and they had won more than a few more; their songs packed with heart and soul generated a great response.

The Fratellis were in sensational form from the off. A rock'n'roll band playing to a rock'n'roll crowd in a rock'n'roll venue. Jon Fratelli looked lean, mean and as if he had stuck a finger in a socket, looking a little like Marc Bolan and channeling more than a bit of Pete Townsend with his guitar moves.

The bands leader was ably backed by the Animal like Mince on drums, the solid Baz on bass and an amazing fourth member on piano.

The crowd responded well throughout the show. The Fratellis have a good catalogue of songs built up with gems and crowd pleasers like Baby Fratelli, Henrietta, Ole Black n Blue Eyes and Whistle for the Choir.

Flathead was a riot, the band playing at a furious pace and the crowd going mental along with it. Seven Days and Seven Nights was a standout from their latest album.

Chelsea Dagger was mental, it must be a joy for the band to play that every single time to see the response. The band closed a great set with A Heady Tale, they were tight and loose, speeding up with ease when they wanted. A top show.