Thursday 5 January 2023

Scottish music scene 2023

It could be my age, or it could be that the pandemic has just f**ked with my concept of time, but 2023 still sounds very futuristic to me. I mean, we are now 8-years after the future that Marty and Doc travelled to in Back To The Future II!

And what does the future hold? People have been predicting the end of time and doomsday for centuries. Now it feels like we really are at the crossroads and sadly it feels like too many people are still facing (and heading) in the wrong direction. 

Are we too far gone? Can we make the world a better place? Safer? Cleaner? More inclusive? Can we look after each other and our planet? Can we place that at the top of every priority list worldwide?

Is that too much to ask? Could we not put political and religious beliefs to one side, forget about profits and focus on people and the world as one. Humanism. We only have one planet.

2023 is now. The world is quite a scary place. I do believe the youth of today can turn things around. Maybe we should just hand power to them right now.

Music is more important than ever. I truly believe that it has saved people over the last few years. The sense of community it can bring (online and in person) and the beautiful escapism it offers ... we need it.

So here are a few things that I'm looking forward to in 2023 in the Scottish music scene. New acts, reforming bands, old favourites, touring bands, venues, festivals, music ... 

My new year resolution

My new year resolution is to go out dancing at least once a quarter! Not clubbing until all ours, but to bars that the likes of Andrew Divine, the Simply Thrilled lads, Holly Calder or Stevie Elements are DJ-ing in - playing good music, loud. McChuills being the most obvious choice. Also to ensure that any gigs I put on have a DJ playing a set after live music to ensure people have the opportunity to dance. 

Some of my best nights out post pandemic have been dancing with friends; to the Simply Thrilled lads at McChuills after Teenage Fanclub at the Barrowland, to Stevie Elements at McChuills last summer and to my friend Phil (pictured above) at La Chunky in October. It's pure escapism and joy.

New music - 3 Scottish acts to look out for

See this blog on Swim School, Lizzie Reid and Goliath

The return of The Delgados

My first gig of 2023 is likely to be The Delgados at The Barrowland on Burns Night. At their best, The Delgados are inventive, melodic and have a touch of psychedelia about them. The Great Eastern is an exceptional album. I'm sure this will be a real celebration of a very important Scottish band. Their fierce independence and paved a way for so many, taking learnings from labels like Postcard before them to form Chemikal Underground, releasing landmark Scottish singles and albums by the likes of BiS, Mogwai and Arab Strap. They also set up the CHEM19 recording studio. An inspirational band.

Brian Jonestown Massacre at The Barrowland

Talking of inspirational bands and fierce independence, the Brian Jonestown Massacre come into town to play The Barrowland in February. Two trips to the legendary venue within a couple of weeks. A great start to the year!


The good people at FRETS always have something cooking. 2022 was an exceptional year for FRETS shows in Strathaven (and beyond). The night before Brian Jonestown Massacre play The Barrowland, FRETS have a night in the CCA for The Hungry Beat book that Douglas MacIntyre co-authored. There will be a Hungry Beat super group playing. Can I do 2-nights out in a row? Can my bank balance?!

FRETS shows in the Strathaven Hotel have been real highlights for me. The setting and stripped back vibe seems to bring out the best in performers. 

Butler, Blake & Grant return to Strathaven for 2-nights in February and there will be a lot more shows announced in the new year. Keep up to date with them all HERE

Starboard Hazes at The 13th Note

My own band Starboard Hazes play our second show to launch (assuming recording goes to plan!) our second EP! Forming this band was a real highlight of 2022 for me. After all, I have dreamed about forming a band for decades! To hear songs I wrote as a teenager and into my early 20's fleshed out has been incredible. I get a buzz from every practice session and to the rush from playing our first gig was exhilarating. Tickets are available HERE It would be lovely to see you there. 

Badly Drawn Boy at Saint Lukes

Badly Drawn Boy was one of the first acts that my wife and I went to see together. Silent Sigh was a big song for us and we still have a mix CD I made with that song on it. I think his first two albums in particular are works of a genius. Damon Gough could pluck a beautiful melody from a rubber band. This show is part of a tour to celebrate 25-years of releasing music. 

James celebrates 40-years with an orchestral tour

James are celebrating 40-years since their formation with an orchestral tour that includes 2-dates in Scotland; at the Usher Hall in Edinburgh and the Armadillo in Glasgow. 

What a truly wonderful band. Never ones to do things by half, they are touring with a 22-piece orchestra and a gospel choir. I've been fortunate to catch James live a number of times over the years and they are always on it. Tim Booth is a sensational front man and he'll be conducting the crowd along with the orchestra.

Belle & Sebastian's Glasgow Bowlie?

Stuart Murdoch has hinted, to the extent that he has pretty much confirmed, that Belle and Sebastian will be hosting a Glasgow version of their legendary Bowlie weekender. The original version took place back in 1999 at Camber Sands Holiday Park.

What venues will they use? How many of those original bands will play? How many times will the Belles play?

I don't think we'll have too long to wait to find out. Hopefully Stuart is OK health wise. The band had to cancel end of year tours at home and in South America and he hasn't been tweeting for a while. 

Murdoch and his band are (in my humble opinion) responsible for one of the most golden periods any Scottish band has ever had. Their 3 albums and 4 EPs from 1996-99 are sublime evidence of a band and songwriter(s) totally in the zone.

Belle and Sebastian are celebrated everywhere they go, but if they pull this off I think they deserve extra acclaim and Stuart deserves a very special ovation for his exceptional creative energy and ideas.

Glasgow Goes Pop

Speaking of Belle & Sebastian .... Tita Geddes (wife of the Belles Chris) is someone I've got to know through a mutual love of Teenage Fanclub. We ended up dancing together in McChuills after the bands post pandemic comeback show at the Barrowland in 2021. One of the best nights out I've had in many a year!

In 2022 Tita and her friend decided to put on an 'indie pop happening' in Glasgow. A 2-day festival of independent guitar pop music that they love. It clashed with my cousin-in-laws wedding, so we missed what sounded like an incredible weekend.

The feedback was universally positive and as a result Glas-Goes Pop is back for round 2! Early bird tickets sold out, so keep an eye out for tickets going on sale.

Kelvingrove Bandstand shows

Edwyn Collins at Kelvingrove Bandstand, August 2022

I always look out for the Summer Nights shows at the Kelvingrove Bandstand being announced. Watching bands like Teenage Fanclub, Belle & Sebastian, Super Furry Animals, Primal Scream, Human League and legends like Brian Wilson playing in such a beautiful setting has been a pleasure and privilege over the years.

A Teenage Fanclub album?

Teenage Fanclub ended 2022 with a blistering intimate show in Dunfermline and a couple of festival gigs. The band really look like they are enjoying themselves and surely it won't be too long before we hear new material, following on from surprise single I Left A Light On which was dropped back in April 2022.

Hopefully there will be some more shows. After PJ Molloys in Dunfermline, I wonder if they could play some more intimate shows across Scotland?

A Lightships/Gerard Love album?

Watching Gerry Love gently reintroduce himself to the live music scene over the last 4-months of 2022 was an absolute joy. It sounds like Gerard is going to be recording a new album in February/March. Whether this comes out as a Lightships record, his own name, or another guise has yet to be confirmed. All I know is that I can't wait. Fingers crossed for more shows through the year.

Ride & The Charlatans co-headline tour?

Ride and The Charlatans are heading off on a joint American tour, with Ride playing their Nowhere album and The Charlatans playing Between 10th & 11th. Surely there will be some UK shows!

Just putting it out there - how about 2-nights at the Kelvingrove Bandstand? Alternating headline nights!

A Carla J Easton album?

My sister Carla has finished recording her next solo album. I've heard a number of songs and it's yet another strong body of work. Mixing should be completed through January and hopefully Carla will bring a couple of singles out through the year. Potentially the album as well. After a storming December show at The Glad Cafe, I also hope she lines up some gigs. Look out for some news on the Since Yesterday documentary coming soon.

Poster Paints - USA and ?

Speaking of my sister, Poster Paints are heading (all being well) to SXSW in March. The eponymous album that Carla & Simon created with the help of friends is a real gem. One of the great things about Poster Paints is that there was never any real plan. Things happened quite naturally. But after the response to their album and a Stateside trip, it might be time to make a plan. 

Doune The Rabbit Hole

My eldest daughter Zoe watching Teenage Fanclub at Doune 2022

I really enjoyed Doune The Rabbit Hole last year. And until just before Christmas, I was really looking forward to this year. Then things started to sound exceptionally dodgy - artist after artist started to confirm that they hadn't been paid for playing this year. News came out that Doune The Rabbit Hole was going into liquidation and changing owners, although it seems to be staying in the same family.

It's a real shit show. No artists or bookers should be confirming for this festival until all outstanding artist fees are paid. A festival isn't a festival without performers. And they need to be paid for their time and talent.

I'll be keeping a close eye on this and hope it gets sorted. At the time of writing, I'm not holding my breath that Doune will take place in 2023.

The Bootleg Beatles at The Barrowland

A few weeks before Christmas my friend Dougie sent a message to a group chat I'm in and asked if anyone was up for seeing The Bootleg Beatles at the Barrowland. I was immediately in!

Seeing The Bootlegs at The Royal Concert Hall was an annual experience for me for a number of years through the 90's and into the 00's. It's been a while since I've seen them and I suspect they'll take the roof off the Barrowland.

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