Saturday 31 October 2015

BMX Bandits at The Hug and Pint

BMX Bandits at The Hug and Pint, 30/10/15

BMX Bandits formed back in 1985 and released their first single, E102, in the summer of 1986. So it is fitting that the band are bridging 2015 and 2016 for their 30 anniversary.

A summer show at the Wickerman Festival was a delight and intimate shows in Dundee and Glasgow this week allowed the band to explore their back catalogue to the delight of some of their die hard fans who got tickets.

Duglas T Stewart always has his ear to the ground and he chose Edinburgh band The Spook School as the support for the Bandits last night. I had only seen the band once before - when they played TeenCanteen's The Girl Effect back in May, they caught my attention with a storming version of Icona Pop's I Love It.

I'd checked them out online and was looking forward to seeing them in action. The Spook School didn't disappoint. The front trio of Nye Todd, Anna Cory and Adam Todd look like they are in their teens, they jumped about, made their guitars sound glorious and their singy shouty vocals were catchy and infectious. Everybody Needs To Be In Love was an early highlight.

The band were punky, poppy and their ear for a chorus won them many new fans. I ended up buying their new album (the bands second) Try To Be Hopeful and a t-shirt. I'll write a separate blog on the band in the near future.

Duglas T Stewart and his BMX Bandits took to the stage and proceeded to delight the packed basement of The Hug and Pint with a set that took in their debut single, songs from their latest album and songs that Duglas is currently working on with Stuart Kidd from Dr Cosmos Tape Lab.

Little Hands was a brilliant opener, the Bandits at their best - romantic, melodic, catchy and fun. A cover of Daniel Johnston's Do You Really Love Me was introduced by Duglas telling the crowd that Daniel is probably his favourite songwriter. The vocals were shared with Chloe Phubo and the crowd really got going.

Serious Drugs was poignant and beautiful, while And It's You, one of my favourite songs from BMX Bandits last album (In Space), was just glorious. It is a gem of a song, stunning melody and has a great natural feel.

The Bandits always guarantee romance, yet they also guarantee a sense of fun and humour. The Road To Loved Is Paved With Banana Skins contained both in bags.

Way of the Wolf and It's In Her Eyes were the newies performed. The latter was my favourite out of those and I look forward to hearing them both on record.

If you haven't heard The Sailor's Song by BMX Bandits then please follow this LINK

It was a bit of a standout for me last night, beautifully sung by Duglas.

You could heal me, make me feel better
Make me feel better than I did today

The closing section was simply sublime;

I could watch you dancing all night
I could watch you dancing all night

Your Class was another highlight, introduced by Duglas as being written in response to hearing Stephen Stills Love The One You're With when he heard it back in the 80's whilst on tour.

It is one of my favourite songs by BMX Bandits, just hopelessly romantic and romantically hopeful.
The delivery was exceptional - Duglas was on top form all night - vocally and also between songs.

And what you do, what you do
Is breaking my heart in two
And I'll never get too tired of you
Don't say we're through, don't say we're through
Cause that could not be true
And I'll never get too tired of you

Disco Girl and E102 were great fun before an encore of old favourite Kylie's Got A Crush On Us and then Fireworks from In Space.

This was a pretty special encore for me and my sister as I used to play Kylie's Got A Crush On Us to her when I was 17/18 and Carla was a young 7/8! And Carla wrote Fireworks for Duglas and he has been exceptionally supportive of her songwriting and TeenCanteen.

This was a fantastic show and I look forward to Duglas and the BMX Bandits plans for the remainder of their 30th anniversary celebrations. Duglas is a singer-songwriter to be cherished and his band seem to relish playing his songs.

Next up for BMX Bandits is a support slot with one of my other favourite bands - The Charlatans - in Dundee in December.

Thursday 29 October 2015

Free by Vigo Thieves

Set me free so I can fly
Break the chains of the beast inside
Night and day gonna see me soar
Close my eyes and I let it go
Flying higher than I've ever known
Night and day gonna see me soar
Close my eyes and I let it go

Vigo Thieves new single Free is out today (30th October) and as the chorus suggests, they are set to soar.

The band burst on to the Scottish music scene a few years ago with the release of their Heart and Soul Pt I EP which contained the magnificent Heartbeats that was picked up by T in the Park for use in their promo video.

An incredible 2-years followed; the band became the first unsigned act to sell-out 2 back-to-back nights at King Tuts, there was the release of the Heart & Soul Pt II EP contained the epic Forever, the soaring Believe and live favourite Ghosts, some incredible festival shows, sell-out shows at The Arches and the ABC, the Barrowlands EP and the euphoric This Love single.

The band, led by the driven songwriter and frontman Stevie Jukes, bunkered down at Rocket Science studios in Glasgow where they found two producers in Michael Bannister and Ross Hamilton who totally understood what they wanted to achieve, to record an album - an album that I have been fortunate to hear.

We'll save that for another blog though, in the meantime Free is the first single to be released from the time at Rocket Science. It has already picked up airplay on Radio 2.

Check out the brilliant video below;

Vigo trademarks are there - melodic piano, soaring backing vocals that are ripe for a stadium or festival, Stevie Jukes singing his heart out, big beats and a chorus you'll be humming and singing for days to come, one that Noel Gallagher would be proud of.

Everybody dreams of something, can you feel it, feel it?

The song could well have been written about Stevie's own dreams and ambitions for the band, yet easily transfers to everyday life for the masses. The verses talk of his head being down, working hard but it's just not enough, being trapped in a small town that feels like it is closing in... we've all been there, but having the dreams and the ambition to break free are what keep you going. Stevie and his band certainly have the dreams, ambitions and songs to break free.

I can feel it, I can feel it coming

Free is being released on King Tuts Recordings. Tour dates are below.

Friday 23 October 2015

Top 10 Teenage Fanclub covers

Cover(s) of the month #5

Teenage Fanclub have never been shy in terms of wearing their influences on their sleeves. The band have released countless cover versions on b-sides or one-off singles and played them regularly at their shows.

I got into the band as a 15-year old, thirsty for discovering all kinds of music. I couldn't have picked a better band than the Fanclub to fall in love with - and they were from Bellshill, just up the road from Carluke! The Byrds, Dylan, Neil Young, Big Star, Alex Chilton, The Beatles, Madonna,  The Velvet Underground, Yo La Tengo, Sebadoh....all artists covered by TFC.

My favourite? - well it is either Free Again which they released on an extremely limited 7-inch (and I have one) or this - an absolute romp through The Byrds Feel A Whole Lot Better on the White Room.

I decided to compile my favourite ten cover versions performed by Teenage Fanclub. Here they are with links to the Fanclub version and also the original.

Unfortunately there were no links to their cover of Association by International Airport (details here) so that isn't included but it is well worth tracking down if you can.

Top 10 Teenage Fanclub covers

1. Feel A Whole Lot Better
Norman and Gerry take turns on lead vocals, the Fanclub at their joyous best. The Byrds released this as the b-side to Mr Tambourine Man - also covered by Teenage Fanclub.

2. Free Again
What a tune, a romp through the Alex Chilton song, an artist truly loved by the band.

Norman on stage with Alex

3. Don't Cry No Tears
A Neil Young song released on the b-side of the Everything Flows CD single. One of the first songs I ever learned to play on the guitar.

4. I Heard You Looking
Absolutely f**king beautiful. Almost 13-minutes of instrumental genius on this cover of a Yo La Tengo song. Released on the Neil Jung (alternate version) CD single.

5. Burned
Multi-format releases in the 90's was the perfect excuse for Teenage Fanclub to record a cover version or three. This, the original was by Buffalo Springfield, was on one of the Sparky's Dream CD's and Gerry Love just sounds like he is loving singing it.

Gerry Love - back in the day

6. He's Be A Diamond
This just flows superbly - perfect for Teenage Fanclub. Originally by The Bevis Frond.

7. Take The Skinheads Bowling
I used to have a couple of Fanclub cassette bootlegs, including a brilliant one from the Reading Festival when the band played this. A cover of a Camper Van Beethoven song. Just brilliant.

8. It's So Hard To Fall In Love
A brilliant Sebadoh song that the Fanclub covered on the bonus disc released with Thirteen. This disc also featured a cheeky romp through Goody Good Gumdrops by The 1910 Fruitgum Company.

9. Mr Tambourine Man
I loved the Reading Festival bootleg I had. Teenage Fanclub came on stage, played an instrumental and then introduced themselves by saying 'Hi we're called Teenage Fanclub and this is a song by The Byrds.' I bought The Byrds greatest hits that week and subsequently discovered Bob Dylan.

10.  Like A Virgin
Guitar pop punk rip through the Madonna classic - what's not to like?!

Sunday 18 October 2015

Pledge Music

Quite a few of my recent blogs have been decidedly retro - anniversaries of classic albums or shows. I am extremely fortunate that many of the bands and artists I got into in my teens and early 20's are still around and I do enjoy looking back at their classic albums and blogging about their current activities. However I want to ensure that my blog allocates space to plenty of new bands and artists that I enjoy and also some of the issues they face.

So I thought I would write a blog about a recent (indeed a current) experience I have had with my sisters band TeenCanteen - one that should be of interest to a lot of DIY/unsigned bands.

The experience involved the crowd funding platform Pledge Music and I have to say that it has been extremely positive -so read on if you want to find out more...I hope this may help some bands or artists in the future.

The cost of being in a band

Some people really have no idea how much money you need to be in a band, even a relatively small one - equipment, rehearsal studios, travelling to gigs/touring, recording - studio time, production, mixing, videos, releasing..... believe me, it can all add up...especially if things start to get serious.

Most bands will put in their own money and any money they make from gigs, PRS or self releases then goes straight back into doing it all again. Unless you have a (major or large indie) label, sponsor, backer or you make some serious money from a song or release, then money is a constant worry.

Funding a serious start-up or DIY band is a serious issue.

Crowd-funding and Pledge Music

I first came across Pledge Music a few years ago when I was managing the Vigo Thieves. Pledge were very interested in capitalising on the interest Vigo Thieves were generating through their use of Social Media. Engagement with fans is something that singer Stevie Jukes is something of a specialist in - in person and online. To this day I remember Stevie hand delivering me Vigo Thieves first EP with a ticket for their show at Sleazys. Online - competitions, asking fans for their opinion, pics, updates, all helps. Social Media is essential for crowdfunding.

Vigo Thieves at King Tut's

Like a record label - Pledge have an A and R team, so, like a record label - Pledge need to find bands to make money. They get a commission, so it is in their interests to take on bands that will achieve their target and hopefully smash it.

Pledge Music was and is, an interesting, yet extremely simple concept - fan funding, or crowd funding. It is now part of common culture. People interested in a project help to fund it - simple! 

So if you are in a band, Pledge Music have the format, skills, knowledge and experience to help you set up a fundraising project; for the vast majority of bands this is to raise funds to record an album. Not cheap!

Funnilly enough I did something on a much smaller scale with the band Sonny Marvello when I managed them. We raised some decent money through shows at Stereo in Glasgow, but also set up a Fanclub - the 100 club. Only 100 members and you got a mini-acoustic album, access to a secret show at a vintage clothes shop in Glasgow (what a night that was!) and a badge. It sold out in a few days and raised £1,000 for the band. Crowd funding - it works if you offer the right event/product/project, promote it correctly, deliver and thank.

Good studios like Tape in Edinburgh, Rocket Science, Cava or Gorbals Sound in Glasgow can cost £400+ per day. Smaller studios like the brilliant La Chunky or Green Door in Glasgow are around £200 per day. So if you're laying down 10-tracks and recording everything separately - you need a good number of days. (please correct me if I am wrong on any prices)

So for recording, mixing and production of an album, you can be looking at a fairly considerable sum. Not the kind of money most bands have lying around.

Cava Sound

Vigo Thieves decided against Pledge Music in the end, largely because at the time it was pretty untried and untested. In 2015 it is fast becoming one of the best ways for small and also for large bands to engage with fans and to fund projects; The Libertines are one of the biggest bands to currently be using Pledge. Cast, Marillion, Reverend and the Makers are others. Do The Libertines need a record label in this day and age when they already have a huge fanbase? 

In Scotland, Roddy Hart and the Lonesome Fire are a band who have embraced crowd funding and Gerry Cinnamon is an emerging artist who has smashed his Pledge Music target to fund his debut album. Gerry is an artist who wants complete control, no compromise- he has it.

Gerry Cinnamon

My sister Carla has a band - TeenCanteen - and she asked me if I could help her raise the remaining funds required to complete their debut album that they are working on at Tape Studios in Edinburgh. They had found the right studio and producer, recorded 4-songs (in Mono), but needed a cash injection to complete the album.

I spoke with Pledge, they liked the band, their engagement via Social Media was strong (despite the fact they maybe didn't have the follows or likes of other bands), they had good songs and videos, good support from the likes of 6music and they also liked the fact that as well as being a music fan, I am a fundraiser by profession. 

I worked with my sister and the band on setting up the Pledge project. We set up a range of ways that fans could get involved to help the band complete their album..... Stripped back home sets, a live album, limited artwork, TeenCanteen cover versions, appear in a video, do handclaps on the album, a Skype harmony lesson, handwritten lyrics....something for everyone ranging from £10 to £350 with loads in between.

We couldn't believe what happened next.... but before that, check the video below....

TeenCanteen launched their Pledge Music campaign, spending a small amount on Facebook advertising and sending an e-newsletter to fans.

The campaign is almost at 50% within 24-hours with pledges towards TeenCanteen doing cover versions and a stripped back home concert helping with a large percentage of that total. Cover versions were £50 and a home show was £350.

In Fundraising Terms people pledging for a home concert are like your major donors - pledging a substantial amount and really making a difference.

But like fundraising - for a crowd-funding project to really work - you need a variety of income streams. Look at Comic/Sports Relief for example, they have big shows, big challenges, people holding events for them, but they also need people texting at £5, £25 or going online and donating whatever they can.

They are also great with the films they make, highlighting the difference you can make. So the video above definitely helped.

Carla posts a short Thank You video on Facebook as the campaign reaches 54%. Within a few hours this leads to cover versions and home concerts selling out and an increase towards other pledges; including the Skype harmony lesson.

In fundraising - thanking your donors properly is of paramount importance. It strengthens relationships.

The campaign reaches 94% and Carla posts a video of an excited Chloe running around the pub they are in - leading to the campaign breaking 100%.

Another great example of thanking and showing how much it meant to the band.

The campaign breaks 100% and Carla posts a thumbs up thank you picture leading to more pledges. 

A further thanks and a reminder that there are still loads of things like handclaps on the album available.

The campaign remains open and pledges are still coming in, even though the band are concentrating on communicating with pledgers rather than promoting the project.

We are now in the process of sorting out everything that needs to be done - communicating with fans, timelines for recording covers, letting fans know recording dates for handclaps, letting people know when they will be sent things, working out availability for home concerts..... I guess this is when a manager comes in handy - or someone like me who can help.

What is really interesting is that it is truly fans that have embraced the Pledge campaign. 98% of the pledgers are non family/close friends. They are proper fans who have read about the band, or heard them on 6Music or caught them at a festival or supporting someone.

This is something that has given my sister a huge confidence boost - the fact that the songs she has been writing in her bedroom and creating with her friends is generating real love and people want to help her make the album.

Music fans - supporting a band to create music = is it really that simple?!

Thursday 8 October 2015

Some Friendly - 25th anniversary

I still remember the first time I heard anything from Some Friendly, the debut album by The Charlatans, who went on to be one of my favourite bands, a band I have seen more times than any other.

It was in the 5th year common room, a year after the album had come out and I was 15. White Shirt, a rush of pure pop perfection, nestled next to Mersey Paradise on a compilation tape made by Martin Callan. Martin was a cool guy, very good at football and he also played bass in a couple of bands.

Sproston Green, Flower and The Only One I Know were also on the tape that I had for ages (wish I still did) alongside tunes from the likes of The Roses, The Carpets and The Mondays.

Today is the 25th anniversary of the release of Some Friendly and tonight Tim Burgess is holding a Twitter listening party. Everyone sticks on the album at 8pm and Tim tweets his memories and feelings about each song.

Tim has embraced social media brilliantly and he has held listening parties before. This one has been scheduled for a while and momentum has been building with people tweeting Tim from all around the world to let him know where they will be listening - including Antartica!

As this unfortunately clashes with a rather important Scottish football match, I thought I would have my own private listening party and write a blog with (roughly) tweet size comments on each song from the debut album by a band that have been helping to soundtrack my life ever since Martin Callan passed on that mix-tape to me.

You're Not Very Well
As openers go, this is not a bad introduction to the band. The hammond and bass are prominent, the band locked in a groove and capable of moving a gear or two for the chorus. Burgess sounding cool and confident.

White Shirt
As I said in my intro, this is a rush of pure pop. White Shirt remains one of my favourite Charlatans songs, the flow, feel, beat and melody get me every time.

And someone said to me
You've taken this too far
But I can't be asked to change

The Only One I Know
This still causes a mass outbreak of pogo-ing and dancing at Charlatans shows to this day. Timeless. The groove, the rises, the funky instrumental breakdown, the melody and lyrics - this remains a perfect Charlatans song. The chorus is incredible - hurtful and seeking comfort.

Everyone has been burned before
Everybody knows the pain

Dreamy and psychedelic, beautiful lyrics. Check that bass groove holding it all together, no wonder Martin Callan liked the band so much!

A boy with a stronger emotion
Has nothing on me I've got this one 

Listen to that bass again, letting the hammond swirl, the beat drive and Burgess croon. The lyrics find Burgess defiant.

You're furious, I'm glorious
You never hurt me that much

109 pt 2
More dreaminess and psychedelia, a beautiful instrumental showing a different side to the band.

Polar Bear
A funky instrumental leads us into the song with Burgess speaking in code (?) and again talking of a girl and a love gone/going wrong. The closing section tips a nod to Hey Bulldog by The Beatles.

Live is a bag of revels
And I'm looking for the orange one
She's gone
And not for the first time

Believe You Me
More evidence of how tight The Charlatans were right from the off, another brilliant groove and Rob going for it on the hammond.

Slow, groovy, yet with a cold and bitter kiss off. A brilliant song. Flower remains a favourite amongst Charlatans die-hards that I have got to know through gigs, the old fan forum and social media.

She got what she deserved
I told her I am of my time

Starts like a 90's cousin of The Doors and the instrumental section continues in that vein. Ends with Burgess urging us to think about it, think about it.

Sproston Green
Exceptional. Traditional set closer, it is like a religious experience for Charlatans fans. The build up and then the explosive start and soaring chorus. Extended instrumental groove out. A band on top form.

Sproston Green generates an incredible reaction to this day

Tuesday 6 October 2015

The Lemonheads at the ABC Glasgow

Shortly after 8.30pm Evan Dando and his latest incarnation of The Lemonheads strolled on to the ABC stage. There was no build up, entrance music or drama. This was a band here just to play music and that they did.

Guitarist Chris Brokaw said 'We're the f**king Lemonheads from Boston Massachusetts' and they were off. Roaring through guitar punk pop gems and moments of tender songwriting/storytelling genius from throughout their catalogue (must have been close to 30 songs), many at under 3-minutes long and with little pause for applause in between. 

Dando, despite decades of hard partying, still looks incredible. He has that stoned, slacker, surfer look to perfection. And he doesn't even try. Overgrown blonde/brown hair, stubble, a white shirt with don't jizz on satan scrawled on it and paint splattered jeans. He is just a good looking, funny, intelligent and talented guy and he had the audience in the palm of his hand.

The warm guitar sounds of Hospital opened proceedings and the set was kind of split into 5. The band - Evan (with Chris for some songs) - the band - Evan - the band.

Evan could have played all night and it was a shame the venue had a 10pm curfew as in his latter solo set he seemed to have really warmed up and loosened up - just wanting to play and sounding fantastic, dropping a Willy Mason song and announcing they have a band called Sandwich Police! 

The band sets included favourites from the It's A Shame About Ray and Come On Feel the Lemonheads albums; blasting through Bit Part and Confetti, Hannah and Gabi sounded glorious and despite struggling with a sore throat Evan hit the long note during It's A Shame About Ray

'This is a song about accccc aspirin' introduced Drug Buddy, Rudderless was a little raw with Evan calling on help from the band (and a sip of what looked like whiskey) to get his voice through it.

The Great Big No was one of the band highlights for me, as was the brilliant crazy stoned Style and a full band romp through Stove was a delight - an incredible song., the story of Evan being heartbroken about getting ride of his old stove.

It was great to see and hear a proper guitar band, the duelling guitars sounded glorious at times, but it was in Evan's solo sets that the real incredible moments took place for me.

There was the humour, emotion and exceptional songwriting of Being Around and Outdoor Type, the tender beauties of Into Your Arms, Frying Pan (just genius at work) and some gems from his incredible solo album Baby I'm Bored - Hard Drive is just incredible, as is the autobiographical (?) brilliance of Why Do You Do This To Yourself?. Ride With Me is another example of just exceptional songwriting.

I lied about being the outdoor type
I never owned a sleeping bag, let alone a mountain bike

At times during his solo sets you could have heard a pin drop, at others Evan held back to let the crowd sing-a-long, to either his parts or the backing vocals. He was also quick to thank the crowd and highlight how it was always a pleasure to play Glasgow - a city where he has often hung out.

Ending with a romp through Alison's Starting To Happen and a delicious If I Could Talk I'd Tell You dedicated to co-writer Eugene Kelly who was in the crowd, this was a great set.

I hope Evan comes back again soon - with or without his band. Never mind about a support band, give Evan a little longer.

Friday 2 October 2015

Pulp at Glasgow Barrowland in 1995

The other night, ahead of my blog on the 20th anniversary of Oasis' Morning Glory album, I posted a few things on Facebook talking of the anniversary. It prompted a friend to reminisce about his favourite ever gig - Pulp at the Barrowland Ballroom in Glasgow and Morning Glory coming out the next day. Back in 1995 there seemed to be no shortage of brilliant music.

Steven Birrell is a lovely guy I met when I worked with the charity Maggie's Centres. Steven was a similar age and we got on well. Steven raised fantastic funds and awareness for the cause and through the power of Social Media we have kept in touch.

I asked Steven if he would write a guest blog about his memories and I have to say I was blown away reading it on the train from Edinburgh to Glasgow this afternoon.

I hope you enjoy it...

Steven - Remembering the first time


The streets of Glasgow’s East End have seen their fair share of hardmen over the years. But the group of barechested young lads swaggering down the Gallowgate twenty years ago struck fear into no one. Yet “Fife’s Scrawniest Boyband” weren’t looking for a fight. They wanted donner meat and chips, another beer and, eventually, a bus back to their mate’s uni flat in Balornock. The swagger was because they’d just seen something special in the Barrowland Ballroom. Barechested, because the cold night air against the sweat soaked t-shirts was chilling them to the bone and a concert veteran had told them that ‘taps aff’ would be warmer. He was right.

I’d been going to the Barrowlands for a few years before the 1st of October 1995, travelling through from Dunfermline with some mates and one of their big brothers who was old enough to drive. The fifteen year old me was armed with a borrowed Lauder College ID with my photo blu-tacked over the real Steven Hunter. I’m convinced I only got in because the bouncer spotted the Fife address and thought I’d be safer inside the venue than stood outside waiting for a few hours.

In that time I’d seen some amazing frontmen, being blown away by Billy Corgan and being mildly terrified of Henry Rollins. But nothing prepared me for Mr Jarvis Cocker and Pulp’s 2nd gig of their Different Class tour and there hasn’t been a live music ‘experience’ that’s bettered it. I’ve never been able to explain why. There’s been plenty of other gigs since, including Pulp, but hopefully you might get an idea over the course of this blog.

I grew up with a bunch of friends who all loved their music and had a range of tastes. We’d spend our Friday and Saturday nights alternating between the bedroom of two friends, Jim and Mo, whose parents had to tolerate a five hour setlist that could swing from TTF to the Rolling Stones, New Order to Metallica, Arab Strap to Nirvana.

But Britpop united us all and Pulp’s His N’ Hers was one of the first albums that had universal approval across the group and was never off the stereo. A night would not pass without one of the group walking across the room that was strewn with NMEs, Select, Vox and Melody Makers to imitate Jarvis, flicking out a leg and then pointing to the sky, before heading downstairs to get the carry out from the fridge. But we’d only ever seen the band on telly, read about them in all the aforementioned and sadly missed titles (it’s not the same NME, I’m sorry!) and listened to them on radio. The Barrowlands was going to be our first live experience of them and they didn’t disappoint.

So, ‘do I remember the first time?’ Oh yes. Twenty years on, I still recall lots about that night. We’d met at Jim’s new flat in Glasgow. Mo had got his hands on a promo copy of What’s The Story from a record fair that afternoon, so we got a sneak preview of the 2nd Oasis album before heading out. But other than their name, I don’t remember much about the support act, Minty. I’m always in for the support slots and they’ve triggered some long term musical relationships with acts. But not Minty.

It was the Different Class tour, but the album didn’t come out until later that month. There’d been a few singles released prior to the gig including the game changing Common People but I went along keen to see and hear all my favourites from His ‘N’ Hers played live - the new material was a bonus!      

From the minute he strutted and shimmied onto the stage, I was captivated by Jarvis Cocker and barely took my eyes off him for the entire gig, smiling, starstruck. That’s probably not strictly true, I had a wee crush on Candida Doyle and I’m sure there was a few cheeky glances towards her throughout the set.

Jarvis and the band took us on a rollercoaster, we danced and bounced and sang along to
Razzmatazz, Joyriders and First Time. We were 17 and 18, a mix of freshers and schoolboys, not a care in the world and that ballroom was the centre of our universe, oblivious to everything else - even the sweat dripping off the roof and on to our ‘curtains’ hairdos.   

I remember being near the front when Acrylic Afternoons came on, and I just stood transfixed listening to the hushed, husky, almost breathless vocals. Even when the chorus burst into life and the crowd started bouncing and jumping, I just let myself get carried along in the sway. Mesmerised. It wasn’t my favourite song on the album before the gig, but as the years have went on, it’s the track I’ve listened to most - probably because of that night. If Kirsty Young ever calls, it’s on the Desert Island Discs list (which changes monthly).

We cheered the opening chords of Babies when we starting thinking they weren’t going to play it. I’m sure I flicked out a leg and pointed to the sky shouting ‘Alright’. I think we all did. The encore was Underwear, classic Pulp, and we all heading downstairs with Common People still ringing in our ears (and staring at the Transvision Vamp poster with Wendy James).

I’m not entirely convinced that I’ve explained what made this the best live experience - I’ll never be a gig reviewer that’s for sure. I was 17, just starting Stirling Uni and this was my first Glasgow gig where I wasn’t going home at the end of it. I was with a group of childhood friends that remain great friends two decades on. We still go to gigs together but the hairline has headed north and there’s no longer a fringe, never mind a set of curtains. On that chilly October night, Britpop took us out of the bedroom and into the Barrowlands. From sitting with our heads buried in music mags with economy cider to jumping about like idiots drinking watered down lager. And there wasn’t a smart phone in sight. This was ‘our moment’, our preview into the new songs and an album that would make them household names. And of course, I got to see one of my idols owning the stage, making us ‘dance, and drink and….there was none of the other stuff!’.

Last year I went along to a screening of Pulp: A Film About Life, Death & Supermarkets at Rough Trade Records and Jarvis and Candida were there to do a Q&A. At the end, the crowds swarmed in to get selfies and signatures and normally I'd be wading right in there. But Pulp are different. I've met plenty of my heroes (and never been disappointed) but Jarvis and co, I'm happy to admire from afar. Instead, I stood at the back, gave them both a wee salute before heading out down Brick Lane with a swagger. ‘Taps Oan’. Smiling. Remembering the first time.

20-years since Whats The Story Morning Glory

(What's The Story) Morning Glory? was the album that propelled Oasis towards Maine Road, Knebworth and breakdown. The band pushed it as far as they possibly could between 1994 and 1996 - they burned bright - white light, white heat.

It was released 20-years ago today. I was 19-years old. The band had been an important part of my life, a fixture, since April 1994 when I saw them supporting The Boo Radleys at the Tramway in Glasgow ahead of the release of Supersonic. They blew my mind - the look, attitude, the songs...

They were f**king consistent - in fact they were better than that - they were improving all the time; live and in the studio. Noel was becoming more confident by the month.

Lets take a look back at the album that took over the world in 1995.

It's worth noting the b-sides that were released at that time and thinking of the album it could have been! Talk Tonight, Acquiesce, Round Are Way, The Masterplan...

On to the album - it just blew up. Some Might Say and Roll With It were the singles that proceeded the album. Cracking songs, much in the vein of Definitely Maybe. But Morning Glory was much more varied than Definitely Maybe, which in the words of Noel Gallagher was '10 singles with a nice corny track at the end.'

Morning Glory had the mellow acoustic moments like Wonderwall (an out and out love song) and Cast No Shadow, the emotional Don't Look Back In Anger (with Noel on lead vocals!) and the sky scraping Champagne Supernova. Definitely Maybe remains my favourite Oasis album, but Morning Glory was an important step away from the debut - along with the b-sides mentioned above, it highlighted that Noel was developing as a songwriter and he had a lot to his cannon. Noel wanted his band to mean as much to people as The Smiths, The Roses, The Jam and The Pistols...he succeeded!

The album opens with the cheeky glam stomp of Hello with Liam singing 'it's good to be back, it's good to be back'. In truth, the lads hadn't been away. They kept on gigging and releasing throughout 1994 and 1995 and all the while Noel Gallagher was writing and storing songs away. An interview with Bonehead from the time of release said that he was in tears when Noel played the album on acoustic guitar to him.

Everyone was familiar with Roll With It due to the summer slanging match with Blur that set the peaking point of Britpop that lasted a full year until Oasis reached Knebworth the following summer.

Wonderwall was the song that took Oasis to a different audience. A crossover smash hit, this was a song that transformed and transfixed the nation. I remember going for a drink in neighbouring Wishaw at the time of release and me and my friends were walking about town after the pub closed and unfortunately came across a gang who looked like they were going to kick our heads in. They shouted across the road asking what we were doing in their town and despite not being a fighter I remember taking my belt off, thinking I'll get a good whack in first before we take a kicking.

Then one of them saw I had an Oasis t-shirt on. Within seconds, both groups of lads were singing Wonderwall and punching the air in delight! Next time we were in town we met for a drink!

This song probably deserves a blog in its own right. For all their self proclaimed love of The Beatles, this was the first time Oasis produced something that could be termed Beatlesy and the nation fell in love with it.

Liam's voice sounds incredible - rich and soulful. He was only 23 when it was released, so would have been a youthful 22 when he recorded it. His voice stretched and strengthened from over a year on the road from the release of Supersonic.

The structure is what would become classic Noel - verse - bridge - chorus. Some bands talked of only writing and recording songs for themselves, in interviews around this time Noel talked of writing songs to be whistled by the milkman and the guy off to buy his 20 Benson and Hedges. With Wonderwall, he got the country singing.

Noel famously said to Liam during recording the album - 'You can either have Wonderwall or Don't Look Back In Anger, but not both.'

Liam took Wonderwall and despite a heft trawl through the wonders of the internet - there seems to be no evidence that he ever demo'd or has ever sang Don't Look Back In Anger - at least not recorded.

So Noel gets DLBIA which begins with the chords of Imagine pounded out by a kid from Burnage. It is a bitter sweet song, Noel is in fantastic form with vivid lyrics and his voice suits the song, soaring for the chorus. Funny at times, especially with;

Please don't put your life in the hands, of a rock n roll band
Who'll throw it all away

Other lyrics go back to his childhood - stand up beside the fireplace, take that look from off your face

And the you ain't ever gonna burn my heart out line was one that you sang from the very bottom of your heart with full gusto. And did we ever find out who Sally was, or is the myth that Liam suggested the line true?

Hey Now, at least in my humble opinion, is a total plodder. Round Are Way, The Masterplan or Acqueisce would have been a much better selection on the album. From memory Noel said he was wanting to write something like Neil Young - he failed. In comparison to the highs of Wonderwall, DLBIA, Cast No Shadow and Champagne Supernova then this is a low and probably the most boring song in the Oasis cannon up to that point. It unfortunately lasts for almost 6-minutes, far too long.

Swamp Song is 45-minutes of a promising jam with all kinds of gutsy attitude that would become Oasis entrance music for a while.

Meanwhile, Some Might Say soars towards the stars. The guitars are turned up and sound magnificent. This was Oasis' first number one. It is pop rock perfection. Doesn't really mean anything, doesn't matter. Noel dovetails Liam throughout and it all just sounds glorious. And any song that allows Liam Gallagher to sing suuunnnnnssssshiiiinnnnneeee is a winner in my book.

Some might say, we will find a brighter day

Cast No Shadow is dedicated to the genius that is Richard Ashcroft in the sleeve notes (remember them?!). Mellow, heartfelt and soulful, it is one of Liam's best vocal performances. Check out his exceptional performance at Knebworth below.

Bound with all the weight of all the words he tried to say
And as he faced the sun he cast no shadow

One of my abiding memories of Morning Glory is travelling from Carluke to neighbouring Lanark in my mate Dave's car listening to the album. We were heading to the house of some guy he worked with at the time and it was in quite a rough part of Lanark. The sun was shining, windows were open and the sounds of Morning Glory were everywhere. It was incredible. She's Electric was blasting out of Dave's friends house, it just sounded absolutely perfect for the time and the environment. I love The Beatles story of McCartney taking Sgt Peppers to a party and opening the windows of the flat at dawn to blast it out. It seemed like every single house in this estate in Lanark was playing Morning Glory on this sunny Autumn day.

Somehow She's Electric has become a bit of a staple at weddings. It is poppy, catchy and funny. You can't fail to like it.

Morning Glory is electric - absolutely sensational - Oasis in pure punk form and Liam really going for it with the vocals. I was lucky enough to be at Knebworth in 1996 (in the front pit after bribing security) and my mate Elliott hoisted me on his shoulders for this. Looking back at 125,000 people going nuts was unbelievable. Ferocious.

Untitled/Swamp Song 2 eases us into the closer. Paul Weller allegedly appears on Swamp Song and Noel apparently wanted to call it The Jam which would have been amazing!

Champagne Supernova is a skyscraping anthem. It feels fantastic, starting off with acoustic guitars and Liam singing his heart out and then it just builds and builds. The beat kicks in and Liam and Noel lead the song towards the sun.

Cause people believe that they're gonna get away for the summer

 You and I, we live and die
The world's still spinning round
We don't know why
Why, why, why, why?

There is a brief respite and then Noel launches into one of his most stratospheric guitar riffs, just to tease us, before Liam comes in and lulls us down before it all kicks off again.

Someday you will find me, caught beneath the landslide
In a Champagne Supernova, a Champagne Supernova in the sky

This is a gem, an absolute belter, with moments of searing brilliance leading to some of the most tender and soulful Liam lyrics in the Oasis catalogue.

Where were you while we were getting high
We were getting high, we were getting high....

Oasis were certainly getting high 20-years ago and they took a hell of a lot of people along for the ride. Take some time to listen back to (What's the Story) Morning Glory? over the weekend and think back to those heady days when Oasis kicked down the door to the mainstream and a whole heap of bands rushed through. A seminal album from the time.