Wednesday 28 December 2016

Princess Leia

Carrie Fisher 1956-2016

Like many guys of my age, Carrie Fisher left a huge impact on me through the character she will forever be associated with - Princess Leia.

Leia won hearts; with her look, hairstyle and attitude; not giving in to the torture droid in the Death Star, taking over the 'rescue' and blasting a hole into the garbage compactor unit and putting Han Solo in his place - something that I can't imagine any other girl (or guy) having had much success in doing so previously. Solo immediately warms to her and turns on the charm 'your worshipfulness.....' as if he doesn't care, but the more I watch A New Hope then the more it is obvious that Solo is as captivated by Leia from the off as men all around the world/galaxy were. Leia responds beautifully 'will somebody get this big walking carpet out of my way.'

Leia left an incredibly positive impression on me at a young age; taking control of the rescue, the captivating swing with Luke after he had blasted the drawbridge, looking absolutely stunning and awarding medals at the end.... the force was with her.

Leia is at her best and coolest in The Empire Strikes Back; the looks between Leia and Solo, their little mind games with each other, the banter/interplay, the kiss, the 'I love you' moment just as Han is about to be cast into carbonate, to which he beautifully responds 'I know'.

Leia's stunning costumes and hairstyles continue; she may be most famed for her gold bikini in Return Of The Jedi, but her Bespin/Cloud City outfit and hairstyle is Leia at her most beautiful for me.

After Solo is frozen and Vader is laying the trap for Luke, Leia takes control (like in A New Hope) in a vain effort to rescue Solo and warn Luke. She later cares for Luke and sets the wheels in motion to rescue Han.

The Spice Girls made their name with girl power but for me and my generation it was Princess Leia who set the scene for how girls should be respected and equal. Leia was up with Luke and Han.

The Return Of The Jedi begins with Leia embarking on another rescue, disguised as a bounty hunter entering Jabba's palace to rescue her beloved Solo. Leia holds her nerve to barter with Jabba 'this bounty is my kind of scum' but is caught in the act of rescuing Han from his frozen state in possibly the most beautifully tender scene from all the Star Wars films. Solo begins to thaw out but is blind from the carbonite/hibernation sickness and asks where he is and who he is with; Leia removes her mask and answers 'someone who loves you.'

The scenes with Leia in a gold bikini as Jabba's prisoner are truly iconic, Leia smoulders with energy and sexuality. The escape from the Sarlacc pit is excellent with another Luke and Leia rope swing.

Leia is supercool in pursuit of Biker Scouts on a speeder, with Luke only just managing to keep up with her. She then befriends an Ewok (Wicket) which leads to the weird scene of Han Solo about to be barbecued at a dinner in honour of C3PO!

There is time for some more classic Han and Leia moments as they attempt to storm the reactor unit, including a brilliant bit where Leia is shot on the arm and they think they are about to meet their end via a Scout Walker only to find Chewie has commandeered it. Han's face when Leia tells him that Luke is her brother is priceless.

Memories came flooding back about all of the above and more when Leia, Han, Luke, Chewie and co returned to our screens in The Force Awakens last December. The interplay between Leia and Solo was as funny and as moving as ever, more so given the years that had passed.

Farewell my Princess, the force will be with you ......always.

Saturday 24 December 2016

Always On My Mind

Cover version of the month #20

Pet Shop Boys take on Elvis!

As always, I learn something new about a song when I write my monthly cover version of the month blog. Elvis wasn't the original performer of Always On My Mind - it was soul singer Gwen McCrae. There are over 300 versions of the song that composer Wayne Carson said that he wrote in 10-minutes with the help of his friends Mark James and Jonny Christopher.

FACT - I once got on stage and danced with Gwen McCrae at the Bongo Club in Edinburgh in 2003/2004. Her song 90% Of Me was on a compilation I adored and I dug deeper into her catalogue.

Gwen released the song as You Were Always On My Mind in 1972, Brenda Lee also released a version and then later that year came Elvis.

A number of covers blogs have highlighted that the song that went on to be a HUGE hit started life as a b-side and that was also the case with Elvis! It was released as an A-side in Britain though and was voted Number 1 Elvis song in a 2013 poll. Elvis' voice croons and sooths, you believe every word he has to say.

The Pet Shop Boys take a huge song and turn it into a massive disco hit. The stabbing synths at the start grab you and pull you in. In the background it sounds like they have hit the play button for the rhythm section, but that doesn't matter. Strings sound divine, Neil Tennant sound soothing and uplifting at the same time and the Pet Shop Boys fairly tear through it.

The stabbing synths return every so often to dramatic effect and Tennant pleads with heartfelt soul;

Tell me, tell me that your sweet love hasn't died
Give me on more chance to keep you satisfied
You were always on my mind
You were always on my mind

The Pet Shop Boys get and got pop music. Tennant once worked (up to Assistant Editor) for Smash Hits. Their first single was the incredible West End Girls!

Tennant and Chris Lowe turn a slow burner into a pop anthem. But then you go back and listen to Elvis, Gwen or any of the other versions and you realise that this was a pop anthem in the waiting all along.

The reflective lyrics, the pleading, the soul, the fact it's not quite an's a beauty.

Previous covers of the month

Tuesday 20 December 2016

2016 review - Albums of the Year

2016 was a good year for me in terms of music. It was very personal; a lot of the music I loved (and shows I enjoyed) was created by family, by friends or by artists I have been following for years/decades. 2016 was also the year that I signed up to Spotify despite vowing never to do so! Yet, I want to support artists. If I fall in love with a song or an album I will buy the physical copy as well, get a ticket for their show or order a t-shirt. 

Here are 20 albums I have enjoyed in 2016. I always like to point out that there are many albums released in 2016 that I haven't heard, so there will probably be a point next year when I discover something and kick myself for being too late to miss tour dates etc.

Top 20 Albums of the year - 2016

Any one of the top 5 could be my album of the year.

1. Pii - Stephen Solo
As I said; any of the top 5 albums could be my album of the year. This is one that means a lot to me, it's by my friend Stephen, he recorded it on his iPhone6 and it has won and melted hearts.

My musical moment of 2016 was the launch party for Last Night From Glasgow and Stephen was on first! It was his first time playing solo and the last song he played was Crying Because. It was just Stephen with a small effect on his vocal, playing a ukelele; it was pure, true, soulful and beautiful. People had tears in their eyes and one guy came up and told Stephen that that performance was worth his membership fee to the label alone.

In my blog HERE I described it as; eclectic, eccentric, psychedelic, gentle, dreamy, beautiful and funny. I hear elements of The Beatles, Talking Heads, Damon Albarn, Boards of Canada, Hot Chip and....Limmy....and most importantly....Stephen.

2. Say It All With A Kiss - TeenCanteen
I was going to write a blog on my sister's album with her band TeenCanteen but a load of other people beat me to it. And that was kind of nice; I sing her praises enough. I love Say It All With A Kiss for the melodies, flows, hooks and choruses, for the clever lyrics and because of the people involved in it.

Here is what a few others had to say about the album;

They sound like a Scottish Shangri-La's who have overdosed on E numbers. In a good way. They are pure pop music and if you haven't heard them you need to immediately. 
They will make your heart sing. .....When Skies Are Grey Fanzine

...vibrant and irrepressibly enjoyable....a mixture of delicate dream pop and garage rock topped off with subtle synth work.... Tenement TV

...a delightful riot of massive beats, swooning harmonies and the gutsy-sweet wonder of front woman Carla Easton and co.... The National essential purchase. The Herald

....part Wall of Sound, part Postcard RecordsIon Magazine

Say It All With A Kiss is packed full of infectiously catchy, sing-into-your-hairbrush indie pop anthems that'll make you feel 14 againThe Skinny

...irresistible girl-group harmonies, sweet melodies and a stomping Wall of Sound style backdropThe Evening Times

Ace....really, really is a beautiful know how much I love the band.....            Marc Riley, BBC 6Music

TeenCanteen perfectly blend light and shade, understand the pace of a record and explore the depths of their musicality whilst still being mindful of staying true to their pop roots. The Music Brewery

3. Here - Teenage Fanclub
My favourite band returned with a wonderful album that sounds even better a few months on from release. Check my full blog HERE

I described the album as; gorgeous, positive, life affirming, reflective and heart warming

4. Wildflower - The Avalanches
What a joyful return. I hope they come to Glasgow in 2017. Read my review HERE

The word sublime features rather regularly in the review and yeah that kinds of sums it up. It leaves me with a warm glow. The imagination, inventive nature, ear for melody, feel for flow...sublime!

5. Homemade Lemonade - Ette  
As I have mentioned, 2016 was a very personal year for me musically and none more so than with this release. My sister Carla's 'solo' album; released under the guise of Ette as the album became a collaboration thanks to the creative spark between producer Joe Kane and Carla.

Released via Olive Grove Records on delicious bubble gum pink vinyl; this gem of an album that was recorded in less than a week has a homegrown psychedelic pop feel to it. Oh and it also has a photo of my daughter Zoe on the cover!

You can read my review HERE 

Homemade Lemonade came in at number 4 on the Bandcamp albums of the year list HERE

34 minutes of pure, unfiltered joy; in a year marked by dark, rolling clouds, Homemade Lemonade offered a rare, welcome rainbow.

6. Give A Glimpse Of What Yer Not - Dinosaur Jr
Ah the sound of J Mascis letting rip on electric guitar - one of the best sounds in the world for an indie guitar pop fan. I've followed Dinosaur Jr since falling for them in my teens and this might just be their best album!

7. Up To Anything - The Goon Sax
A few people I follow on Twitter were besides themselves after attending The Goon Sax show at Mono. So I checked them out and kicked myself for not going. Raw, emotional, humour filled, soulful indie guitar pop music. An album that truly sounds like the band were enjoying themselves when they were making it.

8. It Calls On Me - Doug Tuttle
Chiming Byrd-y guitars, gorgeous harmonies and an album that just has a gorgeous feel to it. This was one of the first albums I bought in 2016, away back in January. I walked into Monorail and it was on. I waited and then asked what it was and promptly bought it. This has happened to me so many times in Monorail! Would love to see and hear him live.

9. Let The Record Show: Dexy's Do Irish and Country Soul - Dexy's
Dexy's originally planned to do this album back in 1984/85, they broke up instead. The modern day Dexy's are in exceptional form; Kevin Rowland is such a fantastic artist, full of soul. creative energy and visually captivating. This isn't really a covers album, it's interpretations of songs that mean a lot to Rowland. From the gorgeous opener Women Of Ireland through to a stunning Grazing In The Grass (check the extended Andrew Weatherall edit HERE ) via a run through You Wear It Well this is an album full of pleasure, soul searching an fun.

10. Until The Hunter - Hope Sandoval and the Warm Inventions
I fell for Hope Sandoval's dreamy vocals when she captivated the indie world in Mazzy Star with the stunning So Tonight That I Might See. She has continued to produce exceptional music with her band The Warm Inventions and also by collaborating with the likes of the Jesus and Mary Chain and Death In Vegas. Her latest release has some real gems and the 7-minute plus Let Me Get There with Kurt Vile is easily one of my songs of the year.

11. Treasure House - Cat's Eyes
My abiding memory of this album is my friend Joe coming round for a few beers and this being one of the albums we listened to. It has dreamy pop, out and out 60's girl group pop, it's very sexual, mysterious and intense.

12. Same Language Different Worlds - Tim Burgess
Hugely refreshing; spontaneous and free flowing. Is how I described this album in my blog HERE

Tim Burgess and Peter Gordon combine to create something special with some really blissful stuff.

13. Eternally Even - Jim James
Just out of the top 10 as I have only discovered the album. I did so by reading this imaginative review in the Sunday Times Culture magazine. It might cause you to check it out too!

It's 1971. Marvin Gaye is on tour promoting What's Going On when, somewhere in the Midwest his band get sick. The only other group in town are four English guys called Pink Floyd. They're named after the bluesmen Pink Anderson and Floyd Council, so Gaye asks them to back him. 

Had this really happened we'd have a better idea pf what to expect on Jame's second solo album than anything by his band, My Morning Jacket, suggest. It's psychedelic-ambient-soul-protest music, and it will win both your heart and your mind.

14. Barbara, Barbara We Face A Shining Future - Underworld
Ove Nova and Nylon Strung are all kinds of blissed out electro gorgeousness. Stephen Watt was kind enough to write a guest blog; At seven tracks long, the album does not overstay its welcome. It revisits you, on the Monday morning trains - the after work gym workouts - the last smoke of the day - the sodden bus shelters in which we wait, and make everything just right again. 

15. Heartbeats - Vigo Thieves
A testament to a band that could and should have gone further. Ambitious anthems with a touch of Springsteen about some of them - wanting to break out and shoot for the stars. Songs like Heartbeats, Believe, Forever and This Love are songs that should have resulted in Vigo Thieves being the biggest band out of Scotland since Chvrches. 

16. Fading Lines - Amber Arcades
I always love to check out releases from Heavenly Recordings - they have fantastic taste in music and the Amber Arcades album is one that I think will continue to grow on me and one I'll return to again the future and probably think - that should have been in my top 10. Great album artwork/pic too.

17. In Search Of Harperfield - Emma Pollock
A remarkable journey through 11 songs that are imaginative, emotive, fun and ambitious. Pollock is in fine form (career high?) throughout - lyrically clever and bold, melodically playful and soulful in voice. Read my full blog review HERE

18. Blackstar - David Bowie
Bowie was unique and exceptionally creative. Blackstar was quite hard to listen to in the aftermath of his death; it took me a month to buy it. I was rewarded by an ambitious, emotional and soulful album. I Can't Give Everything Away is one of my songs of the year.

19. Faults - The Second Hand Marching Band and Benni Hemm
The album isn't on Spotify so you can listen and order HERE 

And read my blog review that talks of fragile brilliance HERE

20. Kidsticks - Beth Orton
Beth Orton produced quite a sparse but beautiful album that mixed her dreamy folky vibes with electronica. Downstair, Flesh and Blood and Corduroy Legs were particular favourites. Get your headphones on for this one.

Sunday 18 December 2016

Inspiral Carpets - Saturn 5 for Christmas Number 1

Craig Gill - 1971-2016

In sixth year at school (1993 if my Maths is correct) I was the editor of the Carluke High School yearbook. I wanted to be a journalist....

I assigned various pages and topics to other wannabe journalists but kept a double page for music to myself. So we had the most popular tracks on the common room tape player, a poll for favourite bands and that kind of thing. I really need to see if it is up in my Mum's loft.

However, I don't need to find my copy to know that the Inspiral Carpets featured heavily alongside Nirvana, Metallica, The Beatles, James, Stone Roses, Charlatans and ..... the Frank And Walters! After All was a huge tune and the Frank's zany sense of humour and imagination with songs like Happy Busman and Fashion Crisis Hits New York won fans in Carluke. In fact, I remember a crowd of us bunked off school to go and see them play an acoustic show at the old Tower Records in Glasgow.

Anyway, back to the Carpets. One of my friends Des was largely responsible for a crowd of people in our year falling for the Carpets. I wish I had kept some of the compilation tapes that regularly floated about the 5th and 6th year common rooms around that time. Des had a keyboard and all of the early Carpets releases on vinyl. I remember being round at his house one night to play and discuss music and he told me he was writing to the band and one of them had phoned him. Des eventually formed a band with his keyboard/organ sound pushed to the front like his idol Clint Boon.

The Carpets burst out of Manchester alongside bands like the Roses and the Mondays. Songs like She Comes In The Fall and This Is How It Feels were absolutely massive. Two World's Collide is probably my favourite Carpets tune, that, Bitches Brew and Dragging Me Down off the Revenge Of The Goldfish album plus the aforementioned classics.

She Comes In The Fall - Live G-Mex 1990

Saturn 5 was another huge single for the Carpets. They were prolific; releasing albums in 1990 (Life), 1991 (The Beast Inside), 1992 (Revenge Of The Goldfish) and 1994 (Devil Hopping). Throw in some non-album EP's and a string of singles - the band were always around during my teenage years. Really prolific with their output and touring. Quality and quantity. The Carpets had a real honesty about them, they were different - a little more garage, raw and in Clint Boon they had someone with real personality. All of that (and more) that translated to gain a huge fanbase around the country.

As the years went by, old school friends Des, Ian (Fishy) and Stevie would continue to get guest lists for Carpets shows in Glasgow and beyond. Through Facebook I would see pictures of old friends up on stage at soundcheck to play Clint's organ and learn of the Carpets helping with unique signed presents for special occasions. They are that kind of band, good people.

So, I've been reminiscing. The reason for this is due to the very sad death last month of Carpets drummer Craig Gill at the age of only 44. Tragically young. Craig joined the band at the age of just 14.

To celebrate Craig's life and to help demonstrate the love for the Carpets to Craig's kids, fans of the band have started a campaign to get Saturn 5 to number 1 at Christmas. It would be lovely.....and it might just happen. Carpets fans and the city of Manchester are right behind it and in the first 24-hours Two Worlds Collide was only 800 behind top spot. It is a marathon, not a sprint though, fingers crossed for the Carpets fans who have poured so much energy into this campaign.

I've just downloaded it from iTunes for only 99p and do you know what - it made me feel good inside.

Monday 12 December 2016

The Christmas Effect at Mono

In 2015 my sister organised 2 very enjoyable and successful charity nights to raise funds for Scottish Women's Aid. She managed to get a load of bands and artists to play shows under the banner The Girl Effect at Summerhall in Edinburgh in May and, because that one was so successful, one in Mono in Glasgow in November. TeenCanteen and friends including Eugene Kelly, Kathryn Joseph, Duglas T Stewart, Norman Blake, Machines in Heaven, Broken Records and The Spook School came together to play covers of girl groups and raised well over £6,000 for the charity, as well as a great deal of awareness.

Carla always intended to do another, but with the release of 2 albums in 2016 through TeenCanteen and Ette, she's been kind of busy!

Not to worry, upon deciding to do something a little different - this time it would be Christmas covers and be known as The Christmas Effect - a stellar line-up was swiftly put together, with a little help from TeenCanteen label mates at Last Night From Glasgow (Mark W Georgsson, Emme Woods, BooHooHoo and Sister John) and Ette label mates from Olive Grove Records; Randolph's Leap and Mt.Doubt, Broken Records, the Cairn String Quartet and Honey and the Herbs.

All artists gave their time for free and Mono also kindly donated venue hire and sound engineer.

To be even more ambitious, the concert was recorded and will be released as a digital album! Possibly in time for Christmas.

I must say a huge thank you to all the artists, Ian at LNfG, all at Mono, Ronan and Colin from La Chunky and everyone who came. It was a brilliant night, really friendly atmosphere and great fun.

Carla (TeenCanteen and Ette) with Ian (Last Night From Glasgow) - pic by Brendan Waters
The duo behind the Christmas Effect

Here is, from memory, roughly what happened;

Things started early with doors opening at 6.45pm and it was fantastic that so many people were down in time to see the Cairn String Quartet open proceedings with classy renditions of It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas followed by seasonal number 1 for the Spice Girls - 2 Become 1. Their swooping and soaring strings gave a real sense of occasion to the whole night.

Cairn String Quartet - picture by Brendan Waters

Next up was my first live introduction to Sister John, new signings to Last Night From Glasgow. They played 2 stunning covers of songs by The Band (Christmas Must Be Tonight) and The Rolling Stones (Winter). Their harmonies were stunning and lead singer Amanda McKeown really went to town, sounding sensational, particularly on The Stones song. I really am looking forward to seeing them live in their own right.

Sister John - picture by Brendan Waters

Leo and Annie from Mt Doubt took on the classic Joy To The World by Elvis Isaac Watts and The Christmas Song by The Raveonettes. Both of them sounded incredible, Leo was deep and has a huge range, Annie was more delicate and soothing, a great combination.

Mt Doubt - picture by Brendan Waters

Mark W Georgsson was next, opening with a brave, bold and truly beautiful cover of an old German hymn How A Rose E-er Blooming. It was just Mark and his acoustic, you could have heard a pin drop, it was lovely. Mark told how he had heard it on a Sufjan Stevens Christmas album. Mark was then joined by a variety of friends including Emme Woods on double bass and members of The Bar Dogs for a brilliant country rock run through of Just Like Christmas by Low.

Mark W Georgsson - picture by Brendan Waters

Emme Woods was up next and she was in super fun form; beginning by purring her way through Santa Baby and then playing a unique version of The Doors Riders On The Storm but changing the lyrics to a Christmas theme, so it was riders on the sleigh for starters. It was great fun and everyone responded well to Emme's humour and style.

Emme Woods - Picture by Brendan Waters

BooHooHoo came on and made everyone smile with a take on Aled Jones Walking In The Air, before creating the first dance of the night and a real sing song to Christmas Time (Don't Let The Bells End) by The Darkness complete with outrageous synth and guitar solos.

BooHooHoo - picture by Brendan Waters

Randolph's Leap bounded on to the stage complete with horns and immediately at the crowd eating out of their hand, banishing any nerves about following a Darkness cover! Adam's voice was pure and true on the Everly Brothers Christmas Eve Can Kill You. Between song banter hilariously referred to an old Christmas single by Ron Atkinson and had a few people checking google to see if this was indeed true. It was/is! There was then a beautiful song by Eels Everything's Gonna Be Cool This Christmas.

Randolph's Leap - picture by Brendan Waters

If BooHooHoo had the first dance, Ette (following on from having their debut album in the top 5 albums of the year by Bandcamp) caused a few jigs with their cover of The Waitresses Christmas Wrapping, complete with Carla playing sax for the first time in 13-years! They followed that with a romp through Wizzard's I Wish It Could Be Christmas Every Day which was sensational. Chloe and Debs harmonies were absolutely gorgeous and they ended by somehow throwing in lines from Feed The World. Joe Kane on guitar was in his element in a Santa jumper, throwing in a few Pete Townsend kicks and windmills.

Ette - picture by Brendan Waters

Things were hotting up, it was turning into a game of top trumps. How to follow that? Step forward Honey and the Herbs who performed an amazing acapella version of Chestnuts Roasting On An Open Fire. Their harmonies were exquisite and they looked splendid in their Christmas jumpers.The audience lapped it up. The quartet donned their instruments and continued to wow the crowd with Last Christmas by Wham. It may well have been the performance of the night. They nailed it, complete with whisper, and it really highlighted what a brilliant song it is.

Honey and the Herbs - picture by Brendan Waters

Broken Records came all the way through from Edinburgh and they played an absolute blinder. The game of top trumps was well and truly on, so Broken Records played Driving Home For Christmas by Chris Rea. The 6-piece looked and sounded brilliant. For me, they are a band that look like a real gang on stage, they know how to play. Singer Jamie runs an annual Christmas Song club in Edinburgh and as they write one every year, they decided to play their favourite. Called My Beer Drunk Soul Is Sadder Than All The Dead Christmas Tree's In The World, it was another of my favourites from the night, a storming song that was Springsteen-esque in size and delivery. The passion conjured up on stage was admirable as there was no sound check and each band was only allowed 2 songs.

Broken Records - pic by Brendan Waters

So yeah top trumps? Well TeenCanteen had a helping hand in the shape of the Cairn String Quartet, Lizzie from BooHooHoo and Eugene Kelly from The Vaselines joining them on stage! A huge thanks to everyone led to Mariah Carey's I Don't Want A Lot For Christmas which sparked a lot of dancing and singing a-long. They then trumped themselves when Carla and Eugene duetted on The Pogue's Fairytale Of New York, it was the perfect song to end the live performances.

Ticket sales, a raffle and the Ebay sale of the last ever gatefold vinyl copy of TeenCanteen's debut album (which raised a sensational £260 - Tigermilk II?) ensure that the final total raised is looking like £3,100 to be split between Scottish Women's Aid and the Scottish Refugee Council.

Thanks to all for a very memorable night. Same time next year?

We'll hopefully get the live album out soon but in the meantime here is a playlist with most of the songs.

Friday 9 December 2016

Seoul - the Colonel Mustard Diaries

Colonel Mustard and The Dijon 5 have had an exceptional 2016. Their yellow movement philosophy is growing all the time, so are their live crowds. They are set to play a sold out ABC on 23rd December for their Yellow Xmas Party. Shame the Barrowland was already booked! 

One of many highlights for the band was an incredible trip to Seoul in Korea in October. Colonel John McMustard himself was kind enough to email me to see if I would be interested in publishing his tour diary. I was, and after reading it I certainly was!

For me this is a fantastic insight into how hard this band works, how seriously they take it, but also how much they place a huge emphasis on fun - for them, their fans, or to whoever comes to see them, wherever they play. They are a breath of fresh air - enjoy.

Colonel Mustard and The Dijon 5 
Seoul tour diary by Colonel John Thomas McMustard 

Myself and the Dijancer did a project on the Seoul 1988 Olympic Games when we were at Primary School and my Uncle Joe is the only guy I know that has been to North and South Korea, but I have to admit that I never thought about going to Korea and probably had a lot of unfounded ideas of what Korea and Seoul were like. 

What I discovered was a friendly , forward thinking country , embracing music and culture from all over the world with its own technology, music and ways of thinking truly, creating a Korean Wave of culture that is one of the best kept secrets in Asia. The people aren't frightened of their nuclear neighbour , I think there's a feeling that they are Brothers that will be united again one day, regardless of this the people in Seoul are just to busy enjoying life in a truly 24 hour city, that never sleeps, parties hard , and one at the cutting edge of technology , music and design. Seoul well and truly has soul. I'd like to think we got offered this trip as we bet Korean band  Dead Buttons at Table football in Liverpool, the truth is Dalse the mainman for Zandari was one of the 50 people there to see us open the mainstage at Soundcity, a wee lesson in always doing your best and performing to your optimum no matter how small the crowd, you never know who is watching you. 

day 1 - we touched down in Seoul, after an epic journey, I can sleep anywhere but some of the guys had no sleep, including big Moags our drummer who also has a hernia to contend with, the big man can be grumpy at the best of times; during the flight he apparently considered sleeping in the aisle of the plane, he was in that much pain. That's dedication for you and the big mans bravery sums up how much we wanted to perform in Korea. 

We got the train to Hongdae University to stay at the Pencil guesthouse which would be our home for the next few days. The reconnaissance party which had set off a full 24 hours earlier only got there 4 hours ahead of us after a delay in Amsterdam due to a dodgy landing, they looked comparatively fresh considering this. KLM had even tweeted the Dijancer, their apologies. I like big businesses using our pseudonyms. There's not enough of that in the world. We adjourned to the rooftop garden had a carryout and made plans to wear our kilts and go to the ZandariFesta opening party. Big Moags wasn't happy about kilting it on the first night, but the true Scotsman relief he would have got must have been a relief after 15 hours of economy class confinement. We turned up at the opening party and turned a few heads , it was a free bar and we watched some cracking Korean acts knock it out the Ji Sung Park. 

We went to a cracking rock club after and watched more Korean bands, it was the first time I'd seen synchronised dance moves to a rock band and I knew immediately we had a good chance of getting our crowd participation across when we played. We walked home through the Hongdae area which I believe is mainly under 30's, people were out in parks drinking, young lovers kissing and holding hands, a lovely vibe , where you can even sit outside a 7/11 and have a drink, probably keeps the under 16's away from asking you to buy them a carryout. People were in restaurants eating Korean barbecues or as the the Koreans call them barbecues, to all times in the morning or night. We were still all on Greenwich Mean Time so the 24 hour culture meant we didn't look out of place stoating about eating loads of street food. The food was out of this world , tasty , spicy and delicious. Our usually reserved trumpet player Kirstin Badges was the most Rock N Roll that night, enjoying all the delights Seoul had to offer and needing put to bed the earliest at 6am. This is a city for insomniacs. Time for 4 hours sleep. 

Day 2 - the next day we got up and most of us went a dos. We explored the area and went to club Steelface to watch a cracking Slovenian band I Wear Experiment followed by lovely experimental Korean outfit Ahndayoung, we again adjourned to the rooftop gardens, where we made fast friends with She Drew The Gun, mainly based in Liverpool, worthy winners of Glastonbury emerging talent competition. I'm looking forward to seeing them play my hometown of Glasgow on Thu 27th Oct in the Hug and Pint and they were kind enough to come to our showcase gig in the MUV hall that night. 

We all then went a trek across to the Kangol store where artists could get a free pair of trainers. I should have asked for a Reni hat, because as I suspected they don't do size 11's in Korea. I just picked my partner Donnas size instead. You can't laugh at a free present. I bought my son John a DC comic in Korean and went for my first Korean barbecue with a friend of a friend Eddie from Helensborough who can speak the language , but didn't know how to interpret Cross The Road, I sacked him as my translator but rehired him as my spirit guide as he dispelled a lot of myths and generally made me feel more comfortable about my attempts to use the language and not offend people. 

I changed into my mustard suit and headed back to club MUV , enroute we watched one of the best Rock N Roll bands about Wasted Johnnys, Anji their Korean lead singer personifies rock n roll, with a carefree, lack of confinement , bags of confidence and great stage presence. A lot for us to live up to. where we we were due to play our showcase. Before we played the excellent band Rock N Roll Radio had a massive crowd , who all seemed to disappear as soon as they finished. It's that horrible feeling you get when its your party and you're frightened no one will show up. We needn't have worried, by the time we took to the stage we had a big crowd , which seemed to get bigger, people just like to hang about outside until they hear something they like. 

The gig was great. The crowd went mental , despite the language barrier , our friend Marks local girlfriend translated Cross The Road for us and they crossed the road. The question everyone back home asked me before I went- aye , but do you think you'll be able to get them to cross the road? They did that and more , with spontaneous chanting and dancing. Dance Off was the song that brought it alive. That's the song where the audience become the stars and despite some trepidation, Anji from wasted Johnnys started getting down and one by one everyone had their moment on the dance floor, by the time it was finished the crowd were rabid. 

13 of us had travelled to Korea and our onstage party carried down and back up onto the stage all night, with a cosmopolitan mix of people and some of the Koreans even borrowing our discoball helmets. We had stage invaders , people of all nationalities high 5ing to the beat. It was beautiful and everything we had set out to do. We walked off stage buzzing. We then went to support our friends Sugarmen from Liverpool at the British Night as well as She Drew The Gun , Coquin Migale and I Set The Sea On Fire , all really varied bands , but all dynamite and doing what they do in a fresh way. 

We met Jenny from Sol Flare and her friend Anis who had been at our gig and hit it off with them , just on a flying visit they were cramming as much Korean culture as they could including going to a dog cafe , where you get to pet loads of dogs whilst having a cup of tea. The Dijon 5 by this time were well on our way and headed to the after ,after party in our favourite Korean pub Strange Fruit was something else. Dave Pichilingi Liverpool Soundcity mainman played one of the best DJ sets of all time. I got a little carried away when he played the Doors and Colin our keyboard player and Inflatable Ginger Party Vortex walked through the door I threw myself off of the table like my ICW brother DCT the international sex hero and ironically accidentally body slammed Colin through the front door, completely breaking it off its hinges. Colin was absolutely fine , jubilant, the door on the other hand was a write off. I've since apologised to the club owner and offered to pay for it.   Luckily he is a fan of the mustard and is even talking about putting the door up on his wall with a plaque. It was a wild night, to say the least. 

We also discovered the Korean national drink Soju, which has a similarity to vodka , but with a Buckfast type buzz, our mate Mark refused to drink it that night as he was due to meet his potential in laws 2 days later, this gives you an idea of the strength and potential for wildness the Soju brings to the party. Dave played a 6 hour set of tune after tune, from the Beastie Boys to the Happy Mondays. It was glorious! 

We've asked Dave to come up to Glasgow on the 23rd December for our ABC gig and spin a few tunes.  Some of the guys went to a local park where folk were still out jamming and enjoying themselves , with some hiphop artists doing their thing, the stamina the Koreans have, put some hardened Glasgow party people to shame. It was an 8am bedtime that morning, the door was smashed, we were all smashed, but we planned to do some sightseeing the same/next day. Some of the guys attempted to get a taxi to the Jimjilbang an amazing communal Korean Sauna that is the ultimate in relaxation and destressing, most Koreans go once a month, at this time in the morning no taxi was stopping for any yellow clad Dijoners.

Day 3- I got up feeling highly rough dragged myself out the digs. It was the first and only day of rain, but it was a welcome part of my hangover cure. We went to Dongdaemun palace , which was nice and peaceful , but not very action packed. We reenacted singing in the rain and did some filming for our song Cross The Road. I was getting some right funny looks with my discoball helmet on, we went to the City Hall where we looked at some amazing building designs and were treated to a choir singing. 

We all met back up and we discovered Full Fathom Five one of our singers had some bad bites and taken a reaction to the same and went between a couple of hospitals. The staff there had never seen anything like it. She was well looked after and the fire brigade even at one point took her to a hospital as they could see she was to weak to travel. True international chivalry. We were meant to take it easy as we had more sightseeing to do and then we were playing the closing party the next day. 

We went to French night and seen a dynamite 2 piece band called KO KO MO, as we are the Dijon 5 we even got invited back to the French after party, we walked there with Danish journalist Mika who had a massive knowledge of Scottish bands and was amazed that I'd played football with Stuart from Belle and Sebastian. When we got to the bar the Stone Roses were blasting from the speakers , we made friends with a couple of folk. The band J and The 9's and Frank from Ooberfuse, we attempted to get an early night , getting up the road at 4am, but found the rest of the band partying hard in Vanilla Johnson our trombone players room. The Soju was flowing. Another 7am bedtime, it was to late to trick our minds into changing time zones. 

Day 4- up again. Honey Grain went down to check out the Korean Hendrix with a Keytar Blue Turtle Land, who were by all accounts sensational. A few of us including DJ5 and Bobby Snoobin decided to climb to the top of the Seoul Tower, climbing up a big hill when you're hungover is always a guaranteed cure! Chinley Biggins and Jurassic Ant had made it to the Jimjilbang and got a cracking massage of an old boy and spent the day trying out all the different saunas and ways of relaxing. Definitely something I want to try next time I'm over. 

We all got kilted up again for our final gig. The kings of Korean indie Crying Nut played before us, again big shoes to fill, one of the tightest bands I've ever seen. We looked out into an even bigger crowd than first time, playing the closing party to  all our new friends were there, along with loads of new Korean fans and people from all over the world was incredible. The noise levels nearly topped our biggest festival gig at Belladrum this year. The crowd gave the Peace, Love and Mustard signs and danced themselves into ecstasy. We all came off stage speechless at the reaction we'd got, just making noises to each other. Shaking our heads in disbelief, if the first gig was an achievement, the second gig was Dijon triumph. We had a set list , but from the word go we knew we had to go all out high energy and the crowd responded with a symbiosis that we probably thought we would only get from a Scottish crowd, they even chanted us on for an encore, which we're not massively into , but it felt right that night. Only one song to finish on after the Golden Girls theme died down. The International Sex Hero Is Coming To The Rescue. I thought we'd depleted all our energy , but I've never jumped as high in all my life. 

Cue After party 2 at strange fruit, broken door and a warm welcome. Dave got some DJing going and was amazing, but with a drum kit set up, drummer after drummer ruined his vibe, and then a bass a guitar and a Keytar arrived and it was time for a different vibe, all the international bands wanted to jam with each other, our own Badges McNair played trumpet, improvising and riffing with a saxophonist from Europe while a drummer from Madsgascar layered down a beat and 2 Koreans got their funky keyboards playing. I'd tried to get big Moags up to drum along to Daves set as he knows they songs off by heart, so when I got the peer pressure to sing I had to step up. We've got a PFunk inspired new song There's Nothing Funkier Than Funk. I even got a singsong going. It was an awe inspiring jam to be involved with and it didn't end there, members of other bands passed instruments about and kept the party going well into the next day. It was the epitome of what music should always be about , people coming together and speaking that international language to each other. No differences , just a coming together to make something good. We can't thank Dalse , Patrick and all the Zandari Festa people enough. We've all came back slightly different , in a good way. Seoul we'll be back, but forget gangham style , Hongdae is the way!

Day 5- time to go home. Moags and fathom got a cuddle from some Raccoons in a Racoon cafe. No Cyril Sneer  in sight. Me inflatable and Dj5 headed down to the river, took in some history and chilled, even getting a wee ukelele jam. Homeward bound. 13 burst Dijoners. Mortimer Chester Winthorpe the 3rd Marquis of Denmark has already sourced some Soju in the SeeWoo at Possil. My cousins research is 2nd to none. We did a lot of filming , so keep your eyes peeled for a mini Dijon in Seoul documentary.