Monday 29 August 2016

Electric Fields 2016 review

A beautiful rainbow appeared during Public Service Broadcasting

Glorious sunshine, only a couple of tiny showers, a rainbow, a stunning setting,a friendly and upbeat atmosphere and all kinds of brilliant music ensured that Electric Fields jump up to a 2-day festival was a roaring success.

In only the third year of the festival, it was a considerable leap from a 1-day festival with a 1,000 capacity to a 2-day festival of 5,000. It worked......and then some.

There were 4-stages; the main stage with all kinds of eclectic acts and headlined by The Charlatans and Primal Scream, the Sneaky Pete's dance tent with the likes of Erol Alkan, the Tim Burgess curated Tim Peaks Diner with great coffee, sofa's and bands from Wales, Northern Ireland, England and Scotland and then the Stewart Cruickshanks tent with all kinds of bands and artists including The Go! Team.

The festival site is only 1-hour from Glasgow, in the stunning grounds of Drumlanrig Castle. It is a gorgeous setting for a festival.


Neon Waltz are a band I've mentioned a few times previously on this blog. I last caught them just over a year ago at the Wickerman Festival and they seemed to have stepped up a gear. A 7-piece band  creating some great guitar music with plenty of melodies, gracing the Main Stage with ease.

Tuff Love pulled a good crowd to the Stewart Cruickshanks stage where their old school fuzzy upbeat indie guitar tunes will definitely have won them some new fans.

Tim Burgess had curated a real eclectic line-up for his diner. Yucatan were a band I really fell for when I discovered them upon announcement back in February. Think Sigur Ros meets Spiritualized in the Welsh Valleys - beautiful music that can soar and swoop, sung in their native tongue. I spoke to the band and was delighted to hear that they were going off to tour in Germany as their latest album Uwch Gopa'r Mynydd has been received extremely positively over there. It was there first trip to Scotland and for me that summed up the Tim Peaks Diner concept in a nutshell - giving brilliant bands the opportunity to play to new audiences across the UK. I'd love to bring them back to Scotland in the future.

Dillwyn - lead singer from Yucatan

The no-show of Sugarhill Gang left a huge gap on the Main Stage on Friday afternoon. They should have been the act to really kick start the party. As a result, it was slightly postponed until Public Service Broadcasting took to the stage.

Public Service Broadcasting

PSB are the kind of band that would generate a response anywhere. Mixing electronica with old broadcasts from the BBC through to NASA. The Other Side was euphoric, building, building, dropping and then exploding to a rapturous reception.

The Charlatans absolutely smashed it. Opening with a triple blast of Weirdo, North Country Boy and a glorious Just When You're Thinkin' Things Over ensured that the crowd were in full on festival party a mode. If anything, this only helped the band on.

Let The Good Times Be Never Ending was a total groove and then One To Another (being played on the 20th anniversary of its release) sent the field wild. There was plenty more to come; including The Only One I Know that created a festival indie disco. Come Home Baby jettisoned straight into near the top of my favourite Charlatans songs chart upon release. I sang my heart out to the chorus.

How High was delivered in blistering form, Tim Burgess was bounding and dancing across the stage, conducting the crowd and sounding better than ever.

Sproston Green, the traditional set closer for The Charlatans started with a slow, menacing bass and organ groove, exploding into life and not letting up until the band brought it all back down to the start.

It was a stunning set from The Charlatans and it was great to meet some seasoned Scottish music veterans the next day and hear them singing the bands praises and talking of them smashing it out the park.

The Charlatans - picture from the Electric Fields Facebook page

We hot footed it over to the Bowie and Prince disco at the Tim Peaks tent and danced like crazy to I Wanna Be Your Lover and Controversy and reached for the sky and sang like crazy to Starman. What a great end to a brilliant day.


The campsite was certainly lively and the ear plugs worked a treat! I felt reasonably fresh and a Tim Peaks coffee and some chat in the early morning sunshine worked wonders.

Plenty of others were also feeling fresh, choosing to take part in the Northern Soul dance class that was on at the Tim Peaks Diner. It was great to see people of all ages participating; indeed it was great to see lots of families and young kids at the festival.

Northern Soul dance class in Tim Peaks Diner

There was plenty of things to do. I chose a 10-minute neck, shoulder and back massage and almost fell asleep to the strains of Time Will Pass You by coming from the northern soul class. Along with the coffee, some fresh homemade soup and a cheese and onion toast - I was ready for another day.

The weather on the Saturday was absolutely glorious. The sun broke through what little clouds there were early on and remained out for the rest of the day.

Mix sunshine with a festival and the Colonel Mustard and the Dijon 5 and then you have a winning combination. Despite being a fan of the band, this was actually the first time I had seen them live. There were plenty of fans there to see them, in fancy dress and in loads of band t-shirts. The bands yellow movement is growing with each and every show.

The absolutely nailed it. Coming on stage and turning the festival into a giant party. At one point the good Colonel instructed everyone to go to one side. His compadre David Blair then jumped down with a flag to play lollipop man to a song called Cross the Road with everyone then dancing to the other side. This played out a few times and people were grinning from ear to ear.

We also had a song called Dance Off, with David jumping into the crowd to egg everyone on. They didn't need too much encouragement!

Colonel Mustard and the Dijon 5

Another song had the Colonel instructing everyone to dance to certain moves; drive your car, first pump, hands in the air...... everyone had to join in - security, police and people trying to be cool.

I've blogged about These Are Not The Drugs You Are Looking For before and it was perfect for Electric Fields with the Colonel confirming that peace, love, happiness and friendship are the only drugs we need.

This was a family show, the Colonel had his kids on stage, plenty of the 6th Dijon's had their kids in the crowd and everyone could join in good old fashioned fun.

To say that the crowd was buzzing after this performance was an understatement. I suspect they might be back next year! If so, they should get a later slot and longer time. They play a HUGE hometown show at the ABC in Glasgow on 23rd December. It will be the Christmas party to end all Christmas parties!

The crowd (the 6th Dijon) play a huge part in Colonel Mustard shows

There was time for a laze about in the sunshine before Mark W Georgsson took to the Tim Peaks stage with 5 friends to play songs from his forthcoming debut album that will be released via Last Night From Glasgow Records in January. The warm acoustic country rock/Americana feel to the songs was warmly received by the crowd.

The sunshine ensured a busy crowd for the main stage. Admiral Fallow were perfect for a mellow Sunday afternoon in the sunshine. Honeyblood then came on and blitzed it. Their performance bodes well for their forthcoming second album.

We began the Honeyblood set at the side of the stage in blistering sunshine. We then walked through the site and out the back to wander up towards the castle and rest in the shade under a tree. It was a beautiful half hour listening to the sounds of Honeyblood from the main stage.

By the time we walked back down and in the back of Tim Peaks Diner, Documenta were on stage and creating blissful drone pop. They brought a sizeable crowd and again I thought of how brilliant the concept of Tim Peaks is - bringing this band over to Scotland from Northern Ireland to play to a new crowd.

Documenta from the back of Tim Peaks

Steve Mason was in fine form, dedicating a song to his keyboard player who was married the previous day, joking he was paying him time and a half. Mason's vocals were crystal clear, cutting through the summer sky and captivating the crowd. His bands shuffling laid back grooves were perfect for the weather.

Back at Tim Peaks Diner, TeenCanteen were soundchecking to an already impressive crowd. By the time they were 3-songs in the tent was packed and people were peering in from outside. Sister and Kung Fu Heartbeats were uplifting pop, Roses was Motown updated for 2016 with a dash of C86 thrown in for good measure. The sweetness of Honey drew large cheers and Cherry Pie was delicious. Amanda Williams was back on acoustic guitar after returning from her travels, turning the band into a 5-piece and bolstering their modern Spector-esque wall of sound. It was the best I have seen and heard them, brimming with confidence ahead of the release of debut album Say It All With A Kiss on 9th September. Closing with a brilliant Sirens ahead of their cover of TLC's Waterfall with a slice of All Saints I Know Where It's At left the crowd wanting much more.


There was time to catch up with TeenCanteen afterwards and the feeling on stage had been the same as off - quite a show.

We waited for friends as actor Paddy Considine's Riding The Low blasted through a high energy set, although it was their chiming guitar song Rocky 99 that won my heart. Although Paddy definitely won a few girls hearts!

Then it was the turn of Everything Flows DJ's to get the crowd in the mood for Primal Scream. I decided to hand the music duties over to my friend Phil Redfearn and he played an absolute blinder.

Opening with the end of Bowie's Memory Of A Free Festival, Phill packed the tent and generated the best atmosphere of the entire festival. Chic's Everybody Dance got....well everyone dancing. Electronic's Getting Away With It was a delight but Blondie's Atomic was the tune of the night. The place went crazy! A Dimitri from Paris mix of Take That's Relight My Fire was a brave choice but it also kept people dancing. There was room for The Stones Get Off Of My Cloud and an incredible re-edit of Marvin and Tammi singing Ain't No Mountain High Enough into Primal Scream's Movin' On Up before we packed up quickly to get out to see the Scream team.

Thank you to everyone who came to see us (Phil). The atmosphere and reaction in the tent was incredible. Phil has recorded the mix so hopes to get it online soon. You can follow him @philthedriller

Everything Flows DJ Phil Redfearn

Primal Scream came on stage just as we met up with friends near the sounddesk. Bobby Gillespie was moving a little more freely than the Kelvingrove Bandstand show and Movin' On Up was the perfect intro. A blast of Jailbird kept things moving. Gillespie did need to sit down for some of the show but Primal Scream kept the party going with Country Girl going down a storm. Everyone wanted to have a party and Loaded was predictably the song that did it and I doubt there is a better song to end a festival with than Come Together.

Top marks to everyone involved with Electric Fields - stunning site, great line-up, perfect size and that touch of luck with the weather.

 Bobby and Simone

Tuesday 16 August 2016

BMX Bandits 30

Everything Flows Podcast #10

BMX Bandits are 30 - Duglas T Stewart interview and music

Duglas and Chloe - BMX Bandits core in 2016

Yesterday afternoon I enjoyed a couple of hours sitting on a bench in Glasgow Green in glorious sunshine with a cheeky ice-cream, recording a special podcast in the company of Duglas T Stewart; singer, songwriter and leader of legendary Scottish band - the BMX Bandits.

BMX Bandits have been celebrating 30-years of music - the band formed in 1985 and released debut single E102 in 1986.

It was 5-years after the release of debut single that I discovered the band in 1991. Aged 15, I was a musical sponge, soaking up all kinds of stuff. From raiding my parents record collections to discover The Beatles, The Stones, Marvin and Tammi and Jose Feliciano....and scouring the NME and Melody Maker every week, looking to discover favourite bands of my own.

A number of the bands I fell for back in 1991 were from in and around Glasgow. A couple happened to hail from Bellshill which seemed rather incredible for a young teenager in the relative Lanarkshire backwater of Carluke.

The BMX Bandits seemed to be a band that practically everyone was linked to in some shape or form. Check their family tree below! Kurt Cobain also said 'If I could be in any other band, it would be BMX Bandits.'

BMX Bandits subsequently turned me on to all kinds of stuff. Being friends with Duglas means that you are never far from a lost 60's classic or super cool new band from Japan appearing on your timeline. I'm very fortunate to have grown up with bands who wear their influences on their sleeves and someone like Duglas has remained a musical sponge long past his teens! His knowledge and taste is impeccable and I was absolutely delighted when he agreed to meet for a podcast where he has selected all of the songs. 6Music or Radio Scotland should sign him up for a show!

Listen in to learn about what these songs mean to Duglas and we also get a chance to talk about all things BMX Bandits - The Pretty Flowers, the Splash Club, E102, 53rd and 3rd, Creation, the 90's, My Chain, Bee Stings, BMX Bandits In Space, past and current members, future plans....

We somehow pack all of this and much, much more into 72-minutes. LISTEN HERE

1. The Morning Of Our Lives - Jonathan Richman
2. The Sweet Sounds Of Summer - The Shangri-Las
3. Lutie Lutie - Tenniscoats
4. Who Do You Think You Are? - Jigsaw
5. Like A Monkey In A Zoo - Daniel Johnston
6. I Saw The Light - Todd Rundgren
7. Someday Man - Paul Williams
8. Jean - Rod McKuen

Also - check this brilliant garage pop groove Razorblades and Honey by BMX Bandits and Anton Newcombe that Duglas mentions in the podcast. Recorded in Anton's Berlin studio during a recent trip. It is ace. Hope they record again in the future.

Thursday 11 August 2016

Primal Scream at Kelvingrove Bandstand

It must be 21 or 22 years since I first had the great pleasure of seeing Primal Scream live when they were touring Give Out But Don't Give Up.

In those days (and for a long time after) part of the fun was going along to see what condition Bobby Gillespie was in. Regardless of how f**ked up he was, Bobby and the Scream team always delivered. 100% or nothing. He was cooler than cool, looking great and acting great. A truly amazing front man who took in all kinds of influences to be completely unique - from the songs and albums he delivered to the performance on stage; Jagger, Lydon.....both there.....but there was never any doubt that Bobby Gillespie was his own man. Not many people can say that at least one point they were the coolest man to walk the planet.....Gillespie can.

The coolest man on the planet...more than once

A picture of Bobby Gillespie in an air ambulance after cracking his vertebrae and splitting his skull following a 7-foot fall from a speaker stack became an internet sensation. Bobby still had his shades on; total rock n roll.

Rock n Roll 

Checking in to see what condition Bobby's condition was in; it wasn't 100%. He was up on his feet for the classic Movin' On Up to open proceedings, but he was clearly still affected by the accident, sitting perched on a stool for the vast majority of the show.

Bobby Gillespie operating at 70-80% largely means that the Scream are operating at that. Gillespie is a front man that can take his band beyond 100% to that magical 110%.....

Step forward Andrew Innes (guitar), Simone Butler (bass) and Martin Duffy (keys). They played their socks off. As much as I love Mani, he will never look as good as Simone who practically purred in tight leather trousers and a beautiful blouse. Punk rock chic. Oozing sex appeal and style.

Bobby and Simone

Hannah Marsden joined the band for a number of songs. She looks like, and is, a total pop star; Trippin' On Your Love was huge and Where The Lights Get In was greeted like an old friend.

Gillespie was largely seated and in pink blazer. Not many could get away with that! But his charisma shone through. Later on I wondered if the Scream were operating at 80% due to Bobby's inaction or the fact they started in daylight.

All the tricks of getting the audience to join in with It's Alright (It's OK) didn't have the same effect as usual.

Some Velvet Morning (played live for the first time), Accelerator and a gorgeous version of Damaged were all very well. But it was only when the lights went down and they played Swatstika Eyes that the band and audience truly came to life.

Primal Scream come to life in the dark

Not many bands have a song with the energy and venom of Swatstika Eyes in their cannon, nor a front man with the skills, taste and attitude of Bobby Gillespie who even operating at 70-80% quite frankly pisses all over the wannabe rock stars of today who have stylists and shop at Top Man.

The response to Swatstika Eyes (and possibly the painkillers) energised Gillespie to stand and lead his band and audience to one of the most fantastic conclusions to a show I have witnessed.

Loaded (naturally) turned Kelvingrove Bandstand into a rave. The double header of Country Girl and Rocks ensured that the audience went crazy.

Bobby sat through Loaded! No-one else did ;-)

Were they coming back on?.....

Well in true Scream style they kept us waiting. Returning to play the euphoric version of one of my all time favourite songs Come Together the version that they played on the Screamadelica anniversary tour.

The band stopped.....the crowd kept going...chanting the chorus over and over for a good 5-minutes to a grinning Gillespie.

OK he was far from 100% but his band, songs and hometown crowd made sure that this was a memorable night. Primal Scream never fail to deliver. We may never see Gillespie sitting down during a searing punk rock techno number like Swatstika Eyes again....of course I would rather have him bounding around the stage, but they are seasoned veterans and they delivered, sending over 2,000 people home in a state of delirium.

Come Together.

Next stop....Electric Fields.

Sunday 7 August 2016

Oasis at Knebworth

It is 20-years since I travelled from Glasgow down to Knebworth to see Oasis with one of my best friends, Elliott. We bonded over Oasis in 1994 and went on a rollercoaster ride with them.

Knebworth came a little over 2-years since I first saw the band supporting The Boo Radleys at the Tramway in Glasgow. In that time, Oasis had won over a nation with songs, soul, humour and a work ethic that put others to shame. They embraced it; the gigs, the parties, the lifestyle. From the Tramway in April 1994 to Knebworth in August 1996, it was quite a ride.

Oasis came along at just the right time for me - I turned 18 in the January of 1994 and during that year I was fortunate to catch them live on 5 occasions; at the Tramway, the Cathouse, in a tent at T in the Park which remains one of my all-time favourite gigs and twice at Glasgow Barrowland Ballroom......Twice as Liam walked off stage during the first gig after losing his voice. Noel played on and urged us all to keep our ticket stubs and they would be back. They were as good as his word.

Fast forward to 1996. Oasis announced that they were going to be playing huge shows at Loch Lomond in Scotland and Knebworth in England. Here are my memories...and some pictures dug out from an old album that was gathering dust in my loft.

Me, age 20, Sunday 11th August 1996, Knebworth.

Getting tickets

I remember tickets going on sale on Cup Final day. A crowd of us went down to my friend Scott's to drink beer and watch United v Liverpool. I was trying non-stop to get through to the ticket phone lines - either for Loch Lomond or Knebworth.

Being a United supporter, I celebrated a double that day. Cantona scored just minutes before I got through to the Knebworth line and I booked 2 tickets for the Sunday (Saturday was sold out), also booking return bus travel from Glasgow.

The whole nation had been trying to get tickets, they could have put on 10 nights at Knebworth. There were only 2 and my mate Elliott and I were going.

Oasis Knebworth press call  - could have brushed up a bit!


We travelled overnight by a bus which left from George Square. I think it left at 2am. Back in 1996 I was working in an office on Woodside Place up by Charing Cross. I had access to the office, so after a few drinks in town, Elliott and I went there for a couple of hours to hang out before getting the bus! I seem to remember us being ridiculously drunk. If my boss had known.....


We arrived down early mid-morning and there was time to hang out before gates opened. There were bootleg t-shirts galore and touts selling tickets for a fiver! Knebworth was the middle of nowhere so there wasn't exactly a queue of people looking to buy tickets on the day.

My Knebworth ticket is at the centre of my ticket collage

The size

On entering the site, the first thing that struck us was the size. Looking back I wish we had run straight down to the front to get into Pit 1 (more on that later). But for the time being we did what most 20-year old Scot's would do....we headed for the bar.

Try getting out for a beer in that crowd!

The beer queue

Knebworth was hopelessly ill-prepared for 125,000 people. There were only a handful of bars and a couple of rows of food stalls/vans. And if you were stuck in the middle of the field then you had no real chance of getting out.

The queue for the bar snaked on for what seemed like miles. No real concern for 6ft 4, good looking and charming Elliott. He simply waltzed up to near the front and charmed a couple of girls to let him in and no-one else was going to argue.

Elliott came back with four beers each and we lay in the early afternoon sunshine and guzzled them down, promptly falling asleep in the sun to the mellow vibes of Dreadzone.

Elliott - got the beers in!

The supports

So yeah, I vaguely remember Dreadzone who had a great song called Little Britain. I don't remember Cast or Kula Shaker at all, I think we were content to just hang out and drink beer at that stage as we were so far back. Or maybe we slept for longer than I thought! We had travelled through the night and polished off a homemade Supersonic (gin n tonic) as a carryout. I have no recollection of those bands at all.

The Charlatans on the other hand, have been one of my favourite bands since 1991. They had very sadly lost hammond/keyboard player Rob Collins only 2-weeks prior to Knebworth in a car accident. Emotions were running high and the band issued a statement saying they would be playing Knebworth with Martin Duffy from Primal Scream standing in, ending it by saying We Are Rock!

A super charged Charlatans blitzed Knebworth. We moved to down the front of Pit 3 (the back section where the majority of the crowd were). There was a moat before Pit 2, full of security, no chance of jumping sections.

It felt like we were about a mile back from the stage, watching tiny Charlatans rocking out, but we had the big screens to help us. Come In Number 21 and Feelin' Holy sounded huge and Tim Burgess was singing his heart out. He later admitted that he didn't know if it would be their final show or not.

Great view for The Charlatans....

Pit One

After watching The Charlatans we were determined to get closer to the action. Everyone was sat down chilling and we started picking our way through the crowd to the side, eventually reaching the section where there were some burger vans.

We found the entrance to Pit 1 and brazenly tried to just waltz in, only to be rejected and ejected by a couple of burly security guards. We went for a burger and then Elliott tried plan B; spotting one of the security guards on a break he asked if there was any way he could get us into Pit 1 - closest to the main stage.

He said to meet him back at the burger van in 10-minutes. We waited, we were not going anywhere.

The security guard arrived back with a coffee cup in that coffee cup were loads of wristbands - our golden ticket to Pit 1. £20 each was the fee, we would both gladly have paid double.

Elliott handed over a couple of Scottish twenty pound notes to which the security guard memorably said; 'What kind of Mickey Mouse money is this?'

Elliott just as memorably said; 'It's Scottish mate, it's good shit.'

We got the bands, we were going in

Entering into Pit 1 was incredibly exciting. We gazed back up the hill, looking at Oasis fans for miles and miles on end. The Manics entered the stage just as we arrived and with a disposable camera we snapped some pictures, high on excitement.

Raindrops Keep Fallin' On My Head was a real highlight of their set.....then the countdown was on for the main event.

Elliott - we blagged and bribed our way into Pit 1


The gap between The Manics and Oasis was filled by a rubbish fight! Pit 3 into Pit 2 and Pit 1, bags of rubbish were flung about with innocent glee. It was crazy and quite a site.

The pre-show entertainment - a rubbish fight!

The atmosphere was absolutely electric as Oasis strolled on stage. We couldn't believe we were so close to the action.

Oasis - Columbia, live at Knebworth 11.08.96
The whole gig is available on YouTube

Noel - 'This is history, this is history, right here, right now, this is history.'

Liam - 'I thought it were Knebworth man.'

Noel changed the intro to Columbia to include a euphoric and uplifting guitar section with Liam asking the crowd if they were 'Mad for it' before launching into the groove. The place erupted. The memory of that opening still sends tingles down my spine.

The band were incredible. Noel's guitar sounded huge, Liam sang his heart out and was in a playful mood. When Noel was singing he wandered around near the side joking with security guards and swinging from camera cranes. He looked like a star in an XXL Arran jumper and shades!

My disposable kodak camera served me well

I remember Elliott hoisting me on his shoulders during Morning Glory and still being able to pogo due to the fact that we were so charged with elation at being there. I looked around and behind me at 125,000 people going crazy. It was an amazing feeling.

It was one sing-song after another. Whatever, Wonderwall, Cast No Shadow dedicated to Rob Collins, Don't Look Back In Anger, Live Forever.....

The band were incredibly relaxed. Joking like this was a normal show for them! Liam was only 24 at the time, totally living the dream and loving every minute.

Two new songs were played with It's Getting' Better Man sounding incredible, the chorus seemed to go on forever. I still think it is a very under-rated song in the Oasis catalogue, although I prefer the live version.

John Squire from the Stone Roses came on for the encore. Absolutely shredding his guitar during a glorious Champagne Supernova that went stratospheric; we were there when the band were at their highest high. Squire then went crazy on I Am The Walrus. It was a special end to a special event.

Champagne Supernova with John Squire

We ended up being just a couple of rows from the front at the end and Elliott actually had his hand on Liam's tambourine as he walked along the front before he handed it to someone he had promised it to.

It was all over in a blur (pardon the pun), it flew by. It was just one anthem after another, a truly incredible performance by a band not only flying, but soaring. So much of that day remains fresh in my mind 20-years on. I dare say that Elliott and I will be reminiscing in another 20-years time. In many ways, Knebworth was the event of our generation.

We stayed back to let the crowds out, resting against the barrier at the front watching fireworks overhead to the strains of Hey Jude.

What a trip. We'd done it; Oasis at Knebworth, we'd got down the front! 20-years on, I still get that buzz from looking back. We did it; Oasis at Knebworth, we got down the front.

Oasis, Knebworth, 11.08.96, setlist

1. Columbia
2. Acquiesce
3. Supersonic
4. Hello
5. Some Might Say
6. Roll With It
7. Slide Away
8. Morning Glory
9. Round Are Way
10. Cigarettes and Alcohol
11. Whatever
12. Cast No Shadow
13. Wonderwall
14. The Masterplan
15. Don't Look Back In Anger
16. My Big Mouth
17. It's Gettin' Better Man
18. Live Forever
19. Champagne Supernova
20. I Am The Walrus

Super Furry Animals at Kelvingrove Bandstand

The Super Furry Animals won and warmed hearts in Glasgow last night with a set that was spine tinglingly beautiful and soulful at times, and pure psychedelic fun at others.

Taking to the stage in forensic overalls, it was kind of apt. Never a band to go through motions or to use standard sounds (in music or voice), Super Furry Animals use instruments, effects and the studio like a laboratory to see what they can create. Experimentation can lead to some wonderful results.

There were many highlights; the reaction from the crowd during a glorious rendition of Hello Sunshine was incredible. The band had paused and were about to continue but the crowd took over with a huge cheer and the cheer kept going. The band looked visibly stunned.

The Furries dug deep into their extensive and eclectic catalogue; Slow Life opened the show in style, (Drawing) Rings Around The World was all Beach Boys harmonies over a psychedelic punk groove, Do Or Die was fun and uplifting and Ice Hockey Hair was sublime.

Hometown Unicorn was great fun and the my own personal favourite SFA song Juxtaposed With U was totally lush; warm strings pouring from the stage and over the crowd. The setting of Kelvingrove Bandstand was made for a band like Super Furry Animals.

Bing Bong was bonkers. Gruff put on a red lobster style helmet after announcing he was going to sing through his right eye and needed the helmet for protection.

Golden Retriever was another standout for me, although the whole set was joyful. The Man Don't Give A F**k ended things in style, developing into a huge techno tune with the band all going off and coming back on in their yeti costumes.

A triumph!

Thursday 4 August 2016

Van Morrison at Kelvingrove Bandstand

Near the end - with my brother Ross down the front

Talk about a game of two halves!

The first half of Van Morrison's set in the stunning setting of the Kelvingrove Bandstand in Glasgow was a little.....bland. Think jazzy lounge band.

He might have opened with Moondance but it was far from marvellous. It was all a bit...well a bit boring and a bit like they were going through the motions.

The Glasgow crowd was polite and seated....that didn't last for long. A few people got up to dance and Van the Man looked noticeably upset, bringing someone on stage to usher the crowd to remain seated.
 Walking in just in time for Moondance opening the show

It was a Thursday night, the start of the weekend, an outdoor gig, drinks were flowing, a legend was playing....people were not going to remain seated all night long!

Things changed, a raucous Baby Please Don't Go ignited a previously bog standard set where the band and Van going through the motions. Van and the band kicked on to segue into Don't Start Crying Now and an utterly sensational Here Comes The Night.

The band were all session musicians, as tight as you wanted, but it was later on that they came into their own; cutting loose on some great tracks. The drummer looked like he was 18 or 19, imagine cutting your teeth with a bonfide musical legend!

People started to dance - drunk, stoned or just enjoying the music, the Glasgow crowd started to exert themselves on Van and his band. There was no way on earth they were going to sit down through his show. Sometimes We Cry was a real highlight at this point.

There was also no way on earth that Van was going to smile or remotely look like he was enjoying himself. But he gave us some clues. Brown Eyed Girl is a wedding staple and one of his most famous songs but he rarely plays it live.

After a few words with his band it was trotted out. Van didn't seem to know all the words but it didn't matter, everyone else did! The place erupted. Suddenly everyone was on their feet. Previously it had been a drunken few, now it was the whole amphitheatre and it transformed the show.

Jackie Wilson Said (I'm In Heaven When You Smile) followed and the place was going crazy. I can't imagine Van and his band having a reception like this in a long, long time. The space at the front was filled with people dancing, singing and taking selfies in front of the legend.

Arms were in the air, people were hugging, dancing and singing. This was heaven and we were all smiling!

Real Real Gone followed with Van Morrison singing his heart out. We couldn't see behind his shades but he must have been enjoying the reaction from the Glasgow crowd.

Gloria was the last song of the night. Van Morrison walked off stage still singing and playing his harmonica. The band jammed on......and on......and on......

The crowd kept singing GLORIA and the band kept on playing. Van was long gone but the band responded to the crowd and played their hearts out. Unlike Van, they were smiling! They jammed and raised it, dropped it and gave everyone solo's. It was a great moment.

So yeah, Van Morrison at Kelvingrove Park - memorable. but the second half when Van, band and crowd cut loose was what made it.

Monday 1 August 2016

I Wish I Never Saw The Sunshine

Cover version of the month #15

I Wish I Never Saw The Sunshine by Beth Orion

For I Wish I Never Saw The Sunshine, as with many songs featured in my monthly Cover of the Month blog, I heard the cover version before I heard the original. In 1996 Beth Orton released Trailer Park, a stunning album, recorded with seminal producer William Orbit. The album earned Orton the tag of 'Comedown Queen' due to its popularity at post club parties in the small hours of the morning.

Orton's wistful voice and the organic nature of acoustic guitars and strings mixed superbly with electronica to create something special. The standard of the songwriting was exceptional; She Cries Your Name, Sugar Boy and Someone's Daughter being particular favourites of mine.

I Wish I Never Saw The Sunshine was the penultimate song on the album and it absolutely melted my heart. I quickly discovered that this song was written by Jeff Barry, Ellie Greenwich and Phil Spector and originally released by The Ronettes. Orton actually released her version on a limited edition 7-inch before it appeared on the album.

Upon hearing the original, this swiftly became my favourite song by The Ronettes. I think the lyrics, performance and production are spellbinding. I had the good fortune to see Ronnie Spector at The Arches a number of years ago and I Wish I Never Saw The Sunshine was my personal highlight from a very memorable night.

The Ronettes version starts with a heart tugging vocal over gorgeous strings and horns.

Baby do you know what you did today
Baby do you know what you took away
You took the blue out of the sky
My whole life changed when you said goodbye
And I keep crying, crying

Spector's Wall of Sound kicks in for the bridge to the chorus, the drums really go for it.
Oh baby
Oh baby
I wish I never saw the sunshine
I wish I never saw the sunshine
Cause if I never saw the sunshine
Then maybe, I wouldn't mind the rain

The simplicity of the lyrics is incredible; look how many mentions there are of baby and the repetition in the first two lines and the chorus. Yet look at how much we learn in the first verse and the poetry involved in the line 'you took the blue out of the sky' and in the chorus.

The Orton version begins with a fragile riff being picked out on acoustic guitar and Orton's voice is beautifully fragile and soulful. When she sings 'I keep crying' you can almost feel the tears.

The chorus doesn't have the dramatic Wall of Sound that The Ronettes version has, yet it is powerful in a different way. The delicate guitar riffs sound exquisite, yet everything is secondary to Orton's voice.

The second verse is heartbreaking with the lyrcs emphasising the pain and isolation being felt post break up. Ronnie Spector's voice soars at the end of the second line and into the chorus with crashing drums and everything taking off.

Every day is just like the day before
All alone a million miles from shore
All of my dreams, I dreamed with you
Now they will die and never come true

Orton's version is even more heartbreaking for me. Listening back to them both I get the feeling that Ronnie is going to be OK, her heart is broken but she'll get over it. With Beth Orton I get the feeling that she may never recover. Her heart hasn't just been broken but smashed to pieces.

After a second chorus there is a slight reflection before going straight into another chorus and then an extra bit at the end with the line Oh this pain, I wouldn't mind the rain, there wouldn't be this pain for extra effect.

And I know there wouldn't be
This cloud that's over me
Everywhere I go

Oh baby
Oh baby
I wish I never saw the sunshine
I wish I never saw the sunshine
And if I never saw the sunshine baby
Then maybe, I wouldn't mind the rain

Oh this pain
I wouldn't mind the rain
There wouldn't be this pain
I wouldn't mind the rain
I wouldn't mind the rain

Beth Orton has released a new album Kidsticks and plays St Luke's in Glasgow on 2nd October.

Previous covers of the month