Saturday 13 April 2024

Eric Cantona at The Garage

Last night I attended the most surreal gig I have ever been to. Never, in my wildest dreams could I have imagined Eric Cantona playing The Garage in Glasgow! 

King Eric, the man who strode into Old Trafford with his shoulders stretched, chest puffed out and collar pulled up, born to play in the Theatre of Dreams. King Eric, who was instrumental in United winning the 1992/93 title, their first in 26-years! United only lost twice following his arrival in November 92, with Cantona scoring 9 goals.

I was expecting the majority of this blog to be about football, but then Eric has always had a knack for drawing people in, surpassing expectations and putting on a show.

Cantona may have previously been flanked by the likes of Giggs, Kanchelskis and Beckham while he pulled the strings, but last night he had two exceptionally talented musicians either side of him - a pianist and cello player who looped his bass with strings - super cool.

Eric, resplendent in suit, white shirt, super cool glasses and hat, was centre stage, pouring his heart and soul into his songs and performace. 

After getting through the 'what the heck is going on here?' questions to each other during the first couple of songs, my friends and I thoroughly enjoyed the show. The musicians were absolutely outstanding and Eric ... was Eric. As my friend Phil said earlier today as we reflected on the show - it was the essence of Eric.

Cantona has to be really into something to do it. This is the guy who walked away from professional football at the age of 30 because he had lost his passion for the game.

He was really into it last night, swigging from a tartan hip flask, arms raised, fingers pointing, theatrical movements and singing of love, war, freedom, kissing and flowers. A new song declared FREE PALESTINE to loud cheers, while Eric also other in Spanish and French.

A jaunty number I Want To See You saw Eric repeat the refrain and point at people in the crowd. The piano became quite house-y and I found myself standing up and punching the air, encouraging my friend to join me. No-one did! But Eric noticed me, smiled, pointed at me and sang I Want To See You.  

Later on everyone was standing and clapping along. Cantona was beaming, radiating positive energy. I can't recall him ever looking so happy, even when lifting trophies. That all seemed matter of fact. and Eric had a constant air of coolness about him. This ... was personal. Cantona was laying himself bare.

Last night was weird and wonderful. I can't say that I'll be listening to Eric's songs in the house, but they did hit the mark live. His two-piece band were wonderful, creating some truly beautiful music, while Eric sang about love, life, death and the universe.

Read on for some football stuff!

So where was I? Oh yes, Cantona arrived at United in November 92. The story goes that Fergie was sitting with Martin Edwards when Howard Wilkinson called to enquire about buying Dennis Irwin. Irwin wasn't for sale, but Fergie nudged Edwards and said 'ask him about Cantona'. 

Cantona signed for £1 million and helped United to their first title in 26-years! 

The following season, United won the double, with Eric conducting electrifying football and bagging 25 goals. 1994/95 is a season that holds Cantona's biggest regret in football. What was it? On 25th January, away to Crystal Palace, Eric was sent off and was abused by supporter Matthew Simmons en route to the dressing room. Cantona launched into the crowd with a Kung Fu kick, following it up with a swift punch.

His regret? He didn't hit him hard enough.

To say that the country went crazy would be an understatement. Yet one person remained super cool, calm and collected. Even if he was fuming in private.

In a press conference, Cantona strolled into a packed room, sat down, began to speak, took a sip of water, finished his sentence and then left the room. His words.

When the seagulls follow the trawler, it's because they think sardines will be thrown into the sea.

One of my favourite Alex Ferguson stories is of him lying in his bed with his wife Cathy. Eric had told Fergie he was quitting and had flown to Paris. Sir Alex, for once, seemed to have accepted this was the end. A pep talk from Cathy saw Fergie contact Eric and arrange to meet him. Cantona booked a restaurant out and arranged for a motor cycle taxi to collect his boss from the airport and zip him through the Paris streets. 

Oh to know what was said over dinner and wine. For me, this is a film in the making. Eric ... if you somehow read this. You're the man to make it!

Eric returned (with a brilliant apology advert) after a long ban and led a new team with Neville, Beckham and Scholes to the double, with Cantona scoring a majestic volley in the 1996 FA Cup Final against Liverpool. 

In typical Cantona fashion, he did the unpredictable, announcing his retirement at the end of the 1996/97 season after winning another title, his 4th in 5-seasons at United. He was only 30.

Since then, Eric has, as always, danced to the beat of his own drum; playing beach football, being a Nike ambassador, campaigned  and acted -check out Ken Loach's soulful Looking For Eric and the superb Inhuman Resources. Cantona has also starred in Liam Gallagher's Once promotional film, even a hard blue nose appreciates the King. 

And now ... Eric has released an EP and a live album and is touring! And based on last night, he is continuing to write songs. 

Cantona is a passionate artist with a creative soul and energy. May his flame continue to burn. 

Tuesday 9 April 2024

Easy Money EP by Homework

Back in December 2023 I blogged on Homework, a new young guitar band from Glasgow. I then listed them as one of my '5 to watch' in 2024.

They've been busy! Playing a show at King Tuts in January and following that up with an EP launch party at The Hug and Pint at the end of March. Annoyingly, both dates clashed with other gigs I already had tickets for. I hope to see them live soon!

Easy Money is their second 3-track EP featuring the songs; Dummy RunHow Can You and Marina Bay Sands.

Santiago, Michael, Lizzie and Andrew describe their sound as 'volatile, loping fuzz pop, as much informed by a lifelong devotion to indie rock dieties like Pavement and Teenage Fanclub as it is by the shoddy acoustics of budget practice spaces and temperamental gear.'

In other words - right up my street!

Dummy Run sounds like running in the sunshine while overdosing on sugar, glorious guitars for almost 50-seconds before the vocals come in I'm in no hurry. Homework definitely go at their own pace! By the time hit the chorus the guitars and vocal melody are tripping over each other beautifully.

How Can You is more like running through golden leaves on an Autumn day. The vibe is a little more chilled and the melodies continue to tumble out effortlessly, how can you caress every drop of the rain?

Marina Bay Sands is lovingly described by the bands label Gold Mold Records (the EP is out on ltd edition cassette and all the usual streaming/download sites) as imagining Gerard Love on Matador. I'd say it could be a long lost Pavement and Fanclub collboration. Again, the guitars sound sublime, while the melodies and harmonies are typically playful.

Each song has been written by a different band member. Homework sound fresh, vibrant, fun and exciting and I can't wait to (finally) see them and hear what they release next.

I have heard they'll be playing soon ...

Friday 5 April 2024

5 from Kurt and Nirvana

Thirty years ago, I was 18-years old and desperately looking forward to seeing Nirvana live at the SECC in Glasgow. I had queued for hours to get a ticket from Virgin Records on Union Street. 

Then, in early March 1994, Kurt overdosed in Italy, resulting in the original Glasgow date of 28th March being postponed. There was widespread concern for the health of Kurt, Courtney and young Frances. I remember reading an interview in the Melody Maker by Everett True, friend and champion of Kurt and the band where True wrote of his concern for the way Cobain and Love were living. It sounded utterly chaotic and unsustainable. Later documentary footage of the duo at home around this time is truly harrowing and heartbreaking. 

On 8th April 1994, news broke that Kurt's body has been found. I was in King Tuts to see The Pastels play as part of Glasgow Sound City. In a time before mobiles and the internet, there were pre-gig whispers/rumours around the room. The Pastels came on stage and dedicated the show to Kurt.

I had parked directly outside King Tuts and after the gig my friend Grant and I got into the car and turned on Radio 1 to hear John Peel, but Peel wasn't there. It was just Nirvana song after song, then a pre-recorded message to say that John wasn't able to broadcast and the show was dedicated to Kurt.

From memory, I don't think Grant and I spoke much on the way home. We must have been in shock. A hero had died. Did I grieve? Or just throw myself into more music? I honestly can't remember. I had only just turned 18. I think my grief was over quickly, maybe within a couple of weeks. Music ... and life ... went on. 

It's better to burn out than to fade away is what Kurt wrote in his suicide note. Cobain certainly burned bright and my friends and I would regularly talk about what the next Nirvana album was going to be like following their seminal MTV Unplugged performance. There were rumours that Michael Stipe wanted to write with Kurt.

On reflection, Nirvana got too big, far too quickly. They were a punk band with punk beliefs, but Kurt loved melodic guitar pop - from The Beatles to The Vaselines. Cobain's songwriting quickly developed from the release of debut album Bleach in 1989 to Nevermind and in 1991. Smells Like Teen Spirit took Nirvana to the mainstream, where they were eaten up and spat out, playing to 'jocks' and people that they were always against.

Geffen expected Nevermind  (released in September) to sell 250,000 copies, the same as Sonic Youth's Goo. By Christmas of 1991, Nirvana were selling 400,000 copies per week, fuelled by the phenomenal success of Smells Like Teen Spirit. As a result, the follow up single, Come As You Are, wasn't released until March 1992.

When it came to recording the follow up, Cobain broke from the polished sound of Nevermind, working with producer Steve Albini and writing songs with puns in the title (Radio Friendly Unit Shifter) and cries for help in the lyrics.

I've been listening back to Nirvana quite a bit recently and thought I would blog on 5 of my favourite songs by the band. 

At the time of writing, I chose;

About A Girl

The third song on debut album Bleach and the opening song from the MTV Unplugged performance and album. About A Girl was an early indication of Kurt's sense of melody, very much at odds from the heavy riffing and obscure song titles that dominated Bleach. In comparison, the title said it all. This was a love song about a girl (Tracy Marander), written back in 1988 after Kurt spent an afternoon listening to Meet The Beatles. Kurt had to go into the cafe that Marander worked in to see here. Hence the line I can't see you every night for free.

There is a fizzing guitar solo and a passionate vocal, the first real evidence that Kurt could sing and not just scream. The Unplugged performance sounds even better, Kurt's voice is so beautiful despite years of straining, screaming and singing with gut wrenching emotion. The fizzing guitar solo is much more mellow and allows the groove/rhythm a little space to breathe.

MTV Unplugged version


Lithium is the sound of Nirvana perfecting the quiet /loud / quiet / loud / explosive sound.  

Perfectly structured, Lithium begins with a cool melancholic riff for the verses and Kurt singing I'm so happy, 'cause today I found my friends, they're in my head. Cobain doesn't sound happy though.

Things kick in for the yeah, yeah, yeah bridge, with Kurt's vocals straining in that beautiful way that entranced a generation and the second verse contains the brilliant line I'm so horny, that's OK my will is good. Then the second bridge builds to an explosion.

Even now, the relentless power of the I'm not gonna crack double chorus absolutely blows me away. 

I like it, I'm not gonna crack

I miss you, I'm not gonna crack

I love you, I'm not gonna crack

I killed you, I'm not gonna crack

Wow! At the time of writing, this could be my favourite Nirvana song. Listen to the lift into the second double chorus. As a teenager, cranking this up on my on my stereo with sub woofers and dancing around my bedroom was an absolute joy.

Official video

All Apologies

Or maybe All Apologies might just be my favourite Nirvana song! The groove, the riff, the melody, Kurt's voice ... he reportedly recorded all his vocals for In Utero in just 6-hours. The song dates back to 1990, Dave Grohl recalls hearing a 4-track demo and thinking; 'this guy has such a beautiful sense of melody, I can't believe he's screaming all the time.'

This could be the home demo released on the Sliver - Best of the Box / In Utero boxset.

All Apologies - home demo

Kurt revisits this version in his Unplugged performance. It's still mellow and melancholic as the closing song on In Utero, but the use of cello really comes out on the Unplugged version. Kurt's guitar solo is gorgeous.

MTV Unplugged version

Lounge Act

Outstanding guitar power pop. Kicking in with a bass groove, Kurt then produces warm guitar sounds and a flowing vocal melody over the top, finding the chorus in 32 seconds. 

Don't, tell me what I wanna hear

Afraid of never knowing fear

Then at 90-seconds, Kurt brings out that voice. Stretched to the limits, Kurt goes for it with a verse and double chorus. There is no let up and it's all over in 2 minutes 36 seconds - glorious!

Truth, covered insecurity

I can't let you smother me

Son Of A Gun

I try not to include cover versions when writing features on 10 (or in this case 5) favourite songs by favourite artists, but given that covers feature so prominently through Nirvana's career - from debut single Love Buzz, through Peel sessions and to the legendary MTV show, it's hard not to feature one.

I was going to include Nirvana's cover of Bowie's The Man Who Sold The World as, personally, I think it is way better than the original. The thing that gets me about Bowie's recording is the percussion instrument that is turned up WAY TOO HIGH IN THE MIX in my opinion. It does my head in!

Kurt and Nirvana are not quite 'unplugged' for the fizzing guitar riff that opens their version. Kurt's voice has that beautiful aching feeling to it. No wonder so many people fell for Nirvana, no wonder their Unplugged performance was broadcast almost on a loop.

However, I'm going for Nirvana blitzing their way through The Vaselines for a John Peel session in 1990. This is pre-Teen Spirit and the post Nevermind craziness. I bought The Kurt Cobain Diaries in 2002 and poured over them. I loved Kurt doodling band logos, setlists, artwork and I loved reading his letters to Eugene Kelly from The Vaselines.

Kurt declared his love for the band. It's kind of amazing how he discovered The Vaselines EP's out in Seattle. The two form a bond, exchanging letters and records. In one unposted note to Eugene, Kurt says he is living in his car, passing on Krist's number. It was the same week Teen Spirit was released!

Playing a cover of a band he loved on a radio show by a DJ who fell for his own band just feels so Nirvana. So punk rock. Kurt would always champion his favourite underground acts, by wearing t-shirts by them, or covering their songs. Whether BMX Bandits, Daniel Johnston or The Meatpuppets (Kurt not only covered their songs but invited them to join Nirvana for Unplugged). For those he covered, royalty cheques made a huge difference to their lives and art.

Back to Son Of A Gun. Grohl's drums have a pounding punk Motown feel, Kurt's guitar fuzzes beautifully, Krist holds it all together and the vocals are almost bubblegum punk pop. And Cobain singing that chorus over and over just melts my heart every time. 

Please also see my 2015 blog - Nirvana play The Vaselines

Thursday 4 April 2024

Gerard Love at Stereo

Of all the stars I've ever seen

You're the sun

Is it co-incidence that the sun is shining in Glasgow the morning after Gerry Love's first full band show in the city for years? 

Personally, I think Gerry's songs could brighten and warm the darkest of days. We've had our fair share of them recently. The 2023/24 winter was particularly wet, dark, cold and stormy. Now the clocks have gone back, the nights are getting lighter and spring may finally be in the air.

Around 300 people squeezed into the basement of Stereo in central Glasgow to banish the winter blues, lovingly warmed by support band National Park

How on earth did this band pass me by? Led by John Hogarty, who has been in and around the Glasgow scene for decades, they played a brilliant set. There were guitar sounds similar to Galaxie 500 and The Velvet Underground, with maybe the odd vocal nod to The Go-Betweens. Early research and conversations last night indicates that they only played the odd show and sporadically released singles on various labels. So I guess I can be excused for missing out on them. Hopefully they will be playing again soon.

National Park by Ruthie Blaney

On to Gerry, going under his Sunday name with a crack band consisting of Tom Crossley (flute, xylophone and other goodies), Noel O'Donnell (drums and backing vocals), Dave McGowan (guitar) and Bob Kildea (bass). 

They started cooking up the goods from the off, bursting into Hang On and then taking the room on a sonic journey through his back catalogue; sprinkling some Lightships here, a new song there and one of his Fanclub classics everywhere.

90-minutes absolutely flew by! I've been fortunate to catch Gerry playing stripped back show in a variety of venues over the last couple of years, but seeing and hearing him with a full band was a delight.

Photo by Vivienne Wilson

Girasol was dreamy and blissful, Fallen Leaves sounded even better live than on record, there was just the right amount of rawness to it. Muddy Rivers was gorgeous, the band jammed on at the end. Don't Look Back was sublime and after the first of 4 new songs there was  a double header of Take The Long Way Round and Going Places. Wow! Gerry and co were spoiling us! 

Love has a romantic soul and that really shines in Sweetness In Her Spark. I love the lines; this old heart is beating for her, sweetness in her spark, it's gonna take me away. Gerry and Dave's guitars gelled superbly and as for Tom Crossley, well, he is a special talent and brings so much to Gerry's songs.

Star Sign was stunning, a cover of He'd Be A Diamond was power pop perfection, while Love's 3rd new song may well be in the running for his first single from his forthcoming album. I kind of like the idea of it being released under the name of Gerard Love. 

Photo by Ruthie Blaney

There was still so much more to come. There were so many lovely smiles on stage and in the crowd. Thin Air was delivered with pace, style and passion. Meanwhile, Silver and Gold was one of my highlights of the night. Gerry's voice was truly beautiful and Noel O'Donnell's harmonies throughout the set were absolutely perfect.

Ain't That Enough had everyone singing along, while the power pop perfection of Sparky's Dream was the perfect way to send everyone home or up to the bar to discuss the show.

Gerard Love is a phenomenal talent. I'm not sure what Dave and Bob's plans are with TFC and B&S later this year, but I hope there is room in their calendars to play some more shows with Gerry.

Roll on the album.

Here are a few more photos courtesy of Ruthie. 

Monday 1 April 2024

This Is Memorial Device at The Tron Theatre

On Saturday 30th March 2024, 250 true believers visited the wonderful Tron Theatre in the Merchant City area of Glasgow.  We were drawn to this gem of a venue by a book, an author, a band, curiosity and our passion for music and the arts.

David Keenan's This Is Memorial Device, originally published in 2017, became a word-of-mouth cult favourite, developing an online X/Twitter community that has kept the fire burning, the word spreading.

I discovered the book via this growing online community (that I'm now honoured to say I'm part of) during lockdown. In many ways, it was the perfect time. The world had kind of stopped, escapism from reality was more important than ever and so, I dove headfirst into 1980's Airdrie, a town where it's not easy to be Iggy Pop! 

Told through the voice of Ross Raymond, a fan of local post punk psychedelic band Memorial Device, and various band members, associates and other fans, the book left me and many others wondering if this band ever did actually exist. Maybe we were hoping that they did! Because they left a mark. That's all you can wish to do as a band, as an artist. Create and leave a mark.

David Keenan weaves a passionate crazed psychedelic tale and I was intrigued to see how this would transfer to the stage. 

The answer? Beautifully.

Set in Ross Raymond's basement, full of memorabilia and relics from Memorial Device, the audience are immediately drawn into Raymond's world, into his memories. Played by Paul Higgins, the passion that Raymond displays for this little known band is utterly infectious and inspiring, lighting the stage and imaginations.

As someone who holds on to all kinds of memorabilia, and who also thinks back to local Carluke (also in Lanarkshire) bands like Librarian and All Too Human from my youth, I found this all too believable. I imagine a few people still have the old cassette demos and setlists stashed away in their lofts.

Raymond told stories of how he met Big Patty (guitar) and then Lucas Black (vocals). How the band forms with Richard Curtis on drums and Remy on bass We see the family tree of Airdrie bands on a powerpoint, illustrating Keenan's attention to detail and vivid imagination - which in turn feeds the myth/rumour that this all happened.

Paul Higgins, as Raymond, is a ball of energy; digging out backdrops, cassette demos and interviews (that are played as videos on screen with Sanjeev Kohli and Julie Wilson Nimmo playing some of the associates and fans) and then using mannequins to create each member of Memorial Device. Higgins is magnificent, you can't take your eyes off him, his portrayal of Raymond's passion is electrifying.

The stories of gigs playing to a handful of people in rehearsal rooms as trains rumble overhead, of travelling to Kilmarnock to play a Bikers Bar, of finding their droning sound inspired by the demolition of a building in the East End of Glasgow, to heading to London to sign a deal, only to fuck it all beautifully up .... they are all so relatable, so believable ... cause that kind of thing has happened. 

Over 75-minutes the audience were lost in the story, the characters and the music. The dawn chorus song played at the end was absolutely gorgeous. Was it new music especially composed for the play by Stephen Pastel and Gavin Thomson (see below)? Or was it really the unearthed dawn chorus recording made by Lucas Black towards the end of his life - noted in the discography as 'field recordings' sonically dicked with by Patty Pierce and Remy Farr? Either way, it was beautifully dreamy, beautifully perfect.


"All the music is made by myself and Gavin Thomson - although other Pastels contributed too. The Morning of The Executioners (the end piece) is the music that we imagined Big Patty and Remy came up with for Lucas's funeral. The soundtrack is coming out in June." Stephen Pastel

Overall, the play brought Keenan's book to life, made it feel even more real, made me continue to question - did this really happen? It made me wish and believe that it did. It made me think of music mad friends with loads of memorabilia of bands big and small. Size doesn't matter, if you truly love a band, you truly love a band. This Is Memorial Device made me think of how important it is to be a true believer in whatever you're doing - even if only a dozen people truly get what you're trying to do. You've made a difference in their lives.

Memorial Device made a difference to Ross Raymond. You are left in no doubt.

Wednesday 27 March 2024

Never Ending Mixtape part 89


How are ya?

Welcome to part 89 of my Never Ending Mixtape. We jump from 3,761 songs to 3,821. 

You can access the Never Ending Mixtape on Spotify by CLICKING HERE or searching for Everything Flows Never Ending Mixtape.

Play from the start, the middle, the end or hit shuffle. Dig in and enjoy.

Here is a little preview of what has been added over the last month or so.

Recent discoveries

Somewhere by Johnny Marr

You Took A Trip by Ike and Tina Turner

One Track Mind by Johnny Thunders and The Heartbreakers

Anything by Adrianne Lenker (blogged on HERE)

New music

Hollowed Out by Ducks Ltd

4316 by Isobel Campbell

We're Going To Make It In A Man's World by Camera Obscura

Common Blue by Warpaint

Old favourites

The Private Psychedelic Reel by The Chemical Brothers

I Try by Macy Gray

Broken Stones by Paul Weller

Song #3 by Marvin Gaye

Monday 25 March 2024

In The Jingle Jangle Jungle


The Brian Jonestown Massacre were (and still are) notorious for their prolific drug consumption, which, coupled with leader Anton Newcombe's fierce temper, often led to members falling out and fighting on stage, or even quitting the band mid-gig.

Dig!, the 2004 documentary, beautifully captures their creative energy, DIY punk ethic and insatiable appetite for drugs. Now, we get to dig (pun intended) a little deeper into the early years (the first 10) thanks to tambourine player Joel Gion's autobiography In The Jingle Jangle Jungle.

Gion is an almost mythical legend of the American independent, alternative and psychedelic scene. Labelled the 'American Bez' by some, he stood with Anton through it all the weirdness, the fights, the fuzziness, the facial hair and even when he walked away, he turned and came back.

In The Jingle Jangle Jungle captures the madness of forming, performing and storming (I don't think you could ever say 'norming') in and within The Brian Jonestown Massacre. 

Gion comes across as a loveable (and knowledgable) music fan who literally stumbled across the band he was looking for and was invited to join. Did he fall in with the right crowd or the wrong crowd?

Well, that is for you to decide. Regardless of your thoughts, it's quite the ride!

Gion seems to wander aimlessly through this phase of his life with no particular ambitions or aims, tossing his beloved record shop job aside to take drugs, party and play tambourine in the band. Before long he is staying in a warehouse, manufacturing LSD sheets and delivering drugs across San Francisco. 

On more than one occasion Gion becomes as broke as you can get; starving for food and craving for drugs. His beautiful soul, cool vibes and chaotic lifestyle means that he always has a floor or sofa to crash on. Most of the time.

Joel wears his beloved Beatle boots down to the extent that they are hollow. He scrapes the remains of drugs off floors and he beautifully (and very often hilariously) captures BJM adventures around the country. The band also, miraculously, scrape by; financially, physically and mentally, driven (whether they like it or not) by the relentless creative energy burning within Anton Newcombe.

Gion's faith in Anton is heartwarming. He recognises the fine line between madness and genius and sticks with Anton when everyone else leaves him. Of course, Gion might not really have had an option. What else was he going to do? 

Burn outs and fall outs are inevitable when you hurtle through life at 100mph. At one stage, Gion escapes to family, but when he returns he is immediately sucked back into the BJM rocket ship and becomes co-pilot. 

At times, the rocket ship is probably on auto pilot, but that is all part of the (not so harmless) fun. That BJM survived and went on to thrive is a remarkable tale. Gion's writing style takes you right into the heart of the journey - his vivid descriptions place you there, his humour gets you through it. 

It was a joy to attend Joel's reading at Monorail at the end of February, his voice accompanied me as I tore through this book night after night. Highly recommended.

Order directly from White Rabbit Books 

Thursday 21 March 2024

Kerr Mercer at King Tuts

Word of mouth is still the best form of publicity. Word is slowly, but surely and steadily, spreading through the Glasgow and Scottish music scene about young singer-songwriter Kerr Mercer.

I first caught Kerr back in October 2023 when he opened Tenement Trail on a wet and stormy Saturday afternoon. Those of us that were in Saint Luke's early enough were treated to a warm welcome as Mercer played a short set of songs he had been writing and recording.

Still only 17, Kerr is at ease playing both piano and guitar and he has a deep, rich and soulful voice that tugs on heart strings, sends tingles down spines and causes jaws to drop. 

Following the Tenement Trail set, Kerr then picked up a some excellent support slots, including shows with both McFly and Callum Beattie at the Barrowland Ballroom towards the end of the year.

Kerr then kicked off 2024 by playing a sold out headline gig in the intimate and immensely cool setting of The Poetry Club. Attending felt like being let in on a secret. His 9-song set was cool, calm and confident. Mercer was funny while speaking with the crowd, wearing a broad smile as friends sang-along to a couple of songs. Guess I Flew To Close To The Sun was a personal highlight for me. 

Momentum has continued to build, with more support slots, including dates with The Snuts at the Barrowland in the lead up to a sold-out show at King Tuts Wah Wah Hut, the legendary Glasgow venue that has been such an important step in so many careers.

Ahead of the build up, Kerr also announced that he would be playing TRNSMT in the summer - he has a lot going on, even before he has released a single.

Support at King Tuts was a young female singer-songwriter called Abbie Gordon, backed by her friend on acoustic/electric guitar. I could imagine some of her songs drenched in reverb and backed by strings. Gritty at times, more melodic at others, she has a lovely voice.

Kerr Mercer came on stage just after 9pm to a huge reception from the crowd packed into Tuts. I immediately recognised set opener Jealous from the Poetry Club. Mercer started with his deep soulful voice for the verse and then soared effortlessly into a flowing chorus. It was the first of many songs that I could imagine being a single and hearing it on the radio.

Carry Me Home was another. Mercer leaves a lot of space in this song, which, at times, has an almost gospel feel to it. Rich in soul and feeling. With only Mercer's electric piano and voice, it packed a punch and could become a real favourite of mine. 

With no music released online, I'm still getting to know (or guessing) Kerr's song titles. Happy to Hurt was another song that leapt out at me. The recognition from the Poetry Club assisted by the excellent King Tuts sound system.

Kerr's confidence was highlighted when he said he would play a brand new song, Lyla, that he had written only the week before. There was a funny and beautiful moment when he forgot the first line and had to go back to his piano. Thankfully his manager got the demo on his phone and let him hear it, so we could get a song literally hot off the press.

Mercer joked of playing slow ballads and then even sadder slower ballads, but everyone was under his spell. There is a warmth in the melancholy. The lyrics, voice and melodies connected with people. The falls or little drops and pauses followed by soaring rises can be breathtaking, while Kerr's whole down-to-earth manner made us all feel part of a very special evening.

With no music released, Kerr played Thinking Out Loud by Ed Sheeran and encouraged people to sing-a-long if they knew the words. A number of people did and his performance with just piano and vocals was stunning. I wasn't aware of this song and after listening to it today, I was pretty amazed at the way Kerr transformed it. Lyrically, it is a beautiful song, but Mercer added some soul. 

Back to Kerr's own growing collection of songs though! Someone to Miss has a chorus that goes on and on, dropping, then coming back in with extra force. Her aches in all the right ways and the aforementioned Guess I Flew To Close To The Sun was stunning. 

Kerr was able to leave his piano and guitar to the side for closer One In A Million as he was joined by his friend on acoustic guitar. It was another gem, the perfect way to end a show which perfectly encapsulated Mercer's phenomenal talent as a songwriter and performer.

Kerr announced his next headline show during his set. He plays the beautiful Saint Luke's on Tuesday 1st October. Look out for this young talent, he is going places ... fast!

Friday 15 March 2024

Bill Ryder-Jones at Room 2 Glasgow

Bill Ryder-Jones rode into Glasgow for his show at Room 2 on a wave of positive reviews and declarations of love for his new album lechyd Da.

I caught Bill playing a rare solo show at Broadcast in Glasgow around this time last year. It was an extremely intimate show with probably no more than 50 people there. Bill was taking some new songs out on the road to test them out. I loved the show at the time, but I appreciate it all the more now, knowing I was part of an audience that were included on Bill's journey to releasing the wonderful lechyd Da.

Tuesday night was my first time in Room 2, a venue tucked away in Central Glasgow in Nelson Mandela Place. Entrance is via a lane and then a narrow corridor down to a basement. As with any basement venue in Glasgow, there are issues with viewing the performance. Room 2 is definitely more suited to club nights as a low ceiling and several metre wide pillars had fans in the sold out show jostling for position. 

Thankfully, after getting some beers in, we skirted right back round the room to the entrance and positioned ourselves side stage for an excellent view. Sadly, Lizzie Reid, who was due to support last night, had to pull out unwell. I have yet to catch Reid live and hope to rectify that at some stage this year.

What can you say about Bill Ryder-Jones?

Bill and his band (a 7-piece, including Jones) came onstage to a huge roar. Glasgow has fallen big time for his talent and the quality of lechyd Da has only strengthened the bond.

I Hold Something In My Hand opened proceedings, Ryder-Jones whispered vocals, the changes in tempo, the flourishes, the flows ... beautiful. If some people in the crowd were struggling to see the show, then there were no complaints about the sound.

Nathaniel Laurence, who also plays with Michael Head, was on lead guitar. The band also included drums, cello, bass, keyboards and slide guitar. Bill switched between acoustic and electric, his in-ear monitors seemed to really help him with his gorgeous hushed and whispered vocals.

After opening with a trilogy of songs from lechyd Da, Bill dipped back to 2013's A Bad Wind Blows In My Heart for Part 2, Hanging Song, Anthony & Owen and Wild Swans. The latter contains a gorgeous lazy guitar solo before everything collides together again to create a beautiful racket. The chiming guitar sound is delighful. One of my favourite Ryder-Jones songs.

Don't tell me that it's over
It's not over, til I say it's over 

From Wild Swans to Wild Roses, the band were in full flight, Bill looked happy and there were widespread smiles through the crowd.

Daniel could bring a tear to a glass eye, while a super tender Seabirds was utterly sublime. At this point it was just Bill and his acoustic guitar onstage. We were all in the zone. Spellbound. 

There was a moment when the bar staff were emptying glasses, but Bill just nodded towards them and smiled. Nothing was going to break this spell, this moment he was creating.

I don't care what you're running from
I would follow you

This was special. The band returned from their break with Bill introducing them all fondly. The magic continued with I Know That It's Like This (Baby), the tender opening song on lechyd Da, Bill was almost kissing his microphone as he sang so beautifully that it was like a lullaby. 

Nothing To Be Done was epic. It's like  distant cousin of Mercury Rev's Deserters Songs. Psychedelic soul and bliss. The band got into a groove and we all got lost in the music. Bill poured his heart out - I just don't see myself getting past this one. On record, there is a children's choir singing along with Ryder-Jones at times. It really tugs on the heart-strings! 

With a 10-minute curfew warning, we were into Two To Birkenhead, to the particular delight of the guy in front of me. There was a real zip to the intro and the band gelled with ease.

Did I mention Mercury Rev? This Can't Go On closed the show; piano, strings, Ryder-Jones giving himself some encouragement to get himself together, recognising that this can't go on. The song is the centre-point of lechyd Da; psychedelic and pure emotion. It's gorgeous and somehow simultaneously heartbreaking and heartwarming. 

Lets hope Bill returns to Glasgow later in the year. 

Monday 11 March 2024

I Hold Something In My Hand

Trust me #67
I Hold Something In My Hand by Bill Ryder-Jones

I have attempted to write a blog on Bill Ryder-Jones lechyd Da album a number of times. I start, stop, I delete, try again and then accept that I cannot put my love and appreciation for this sublime album into words. In short, I think it is a masterpiece.

"It's been incredible making this album. Despite all the life stuff that's happened, it has brought me immense happiness. I've always rallied against it when people ask if making a record is cathartic but I'd have to admit that this one really was." Bill Ryder Jones

Released on 12th January, after only a couple of listens, I found myself messaging friends to say that the album of 2024 was already out in the world. Two months on, I still feel that way. I took a 2-week break from the album and when I returned to it, I found even more across the 13-songs. 

The cover of Bill Ryder-Jones lechyd Da

lechyd Da is 48-minutes long, but time will stop when you listen. Ryder-Jones goes deep, pouring his heart and soul out over soaring and tender strings and soulful horns and conjuring words, melodies and feelings that tug hard on my heart strings. 

I love the full album and I might try to write a full blog on it at some point in the future. But ahead of Bill visiting Glasgow's Room 2 tomorrow night, I thought I would focus on one of my favourite songs - I Hold Something In My Hand. Surely I can start and finish a blog on one song ... right?

Well, it was difficult to choose only one! I'll write another one on This Can't Go On another time!

There is a beautiful gentleness to I Hold Something In My Hand. The way Bill brushes and picks at his acoustic guitar as he sings of his need for, and addiction to, drugs;

I hold something in my hand

Feeling sick but better

We belong together

Ryder-Jones is caught - recognising his addiction, questioning should it mean that much to me? The playing and production is utterly sublime and the song goes really dreamy after Bill sings;

Better sick than feeling

What's the sense in feelings?

I could just drown them out

There is a beautiful instrumental section and then mournful horns are introduced at just the right time for the closing mantra.

Now I can't be caught without

So Jase can you sort me out?

Jase can you sort me out?

I can't be caught without

Can you feel that? The horns, the strings and Bill? Sheer heartfelt emotion, honesty, rawness and beauty. Soul. I Hold Something In My Hand is 3 minutes and 5 seconds of intimacy and openness, of admission, guilt and recognition. Genius songwriting, production and arrangement.

Official video

I Hold Something In My Hand is added to my Trust Me playlist; search for Everything Flows - Trust Me on Spotify or CLICK HERE 

Check below for all previous blogs in my Trust Me series.

Previous Trust Me blogs

1. Something On Your Mind by Karen Dalton
1A. Crimson and Clover by Tommy James and the Shondells
2. I Am, I Said  by Neil Diamond
3. Where's The Playground Susie?   by Glen Campbell
4. If You Could Read My Mind by Gordon Lighfoot
5. Gimme Some Truth by John Lennon
6. Gone With The Wind Is My Love by Rita and the Tiaras
7. In The Year 2525 by Zager and Evans
8. The Music Box by Ruth Copeland
9. The Ship Song by Nick Cave
10. Sometimes by James
11. I Walk The Earth by King Biscuit Time
12. Didn't Know What I Was In For by Better Oblivion Community Centre
13. When My Boy Walks Down The Street by The Magnetic Fields
14. The Man Don't Give A F**k by Super Furry Animals
15. All Flowers In Time Bend Towards The Sun by Jeff Buckley and Liz Fraser
16. Are You Lookin' by The Tymes
17. A Real Hero by College & Electric Youth
18. Feelings Gone by Callum Easter
19. Sunday Morning by The Velvet Underground
20. Did I Say by Teenage Fanclub
21. Don't Look Back by Teenage Fanclub
23. Belfast by Orbital
24. Clouds by The Jayhawks
25. Dreaming Of You by The Coral
26. Everlasting Love by Love Affair
27. Walk Away Renee by The Left Banke
28. Teenage Kicks by The Undertones
29. Shaky Ground by Sneeze
29. Rill Rill by Sleigh Bells
30. I Can Feel Your Love by Felice Taylor
31. The State We're In by The Chemical Brothers w/ Beth Orton
32. Sunshine After The Rain by Ellie Greenwich
33. Losing My Edge by LCD Soundsystem
34. Mondo 77 by Looper
35. Les Fleurs by Minnie Riperton
36. Rat Trap by The Boomtown Rats
37. How High by The Charlatans
38. I Can't Let Go by Evie Sands
39. Pop Song 89 by R.E.M.
40. Summertime Clothes by Animal Collective
41. There She Goes by The Las
42. We're Going To Be Friends by White Stripes
43. Autumn Sweater by Yo La Tengo
44. Sister Rena by Lomond Campbell
45. Revolution by The Beatles
46. Lazarus by The Boo Radleys
47. Wrote For Luck by Happy Mondays
48. American Trilogy by The Delgados
49. Loser by Beck 
50. Silent Sigh by Badly Drawn Boy
51. Comedy by Shack
52. Take The Skinheads Bowling by Camper Van Beethoven
53. Freakscene by Dinosaur Jr
54. Thank You For Being You by The Pastels
55. I Think I'm In Love by Spiritualized
56. Chestnut Mare by The Byrds
57. Cannonball by The Breeders
58. Like A Rolling Stone by Bob Dylan
59. You Make Me Weak At The Knees by Electrelane
60. Lucky by Radiohead
61. Strange Currencies by R.E.M.
61. I Am The Cosmos by Chris Bell
62. Like A Ship (Without A Sail) by Pastor TL Barrett and the Youth for Christ Choir
63. Nothing But A Heartache by The Flirtations
64. Made of Stone by The Stone Roses
65. Tonight In Belfast by Orbital, David Holmes, DJ Helen and Mike Garry
66. Anything by Adrianne Lenker

Thursday 7 March 2024

Girls & Boys

30-years ago 
Girls & Boys by Blur

Release date - 7th March 1994

Britpop exploded in the spring of 1994 and went technicolour with the release of Blur's Girls & Boys. This single well and truly put the POP in Britpop, reaching number 5 in the charts and catapulting Blur to new heights.

Never mind song titles like Metal Mickey or Animal Nitrate, this was pop in its purest form. Girls who want boys, who want girls ... that's been the case since the dawn of time and even The Beatles hadn't captured this in such a bold way. 

Girls & Boys is almost ridiculously catchy. The synth riff, disco beat, funky (Duran Duran - according to Alex James) bass and Damon Albarn singing about love in the nineties, is paranoid (I always thought it was it's paradise).

Albarn wrote the song after holidaying in Magaluf with his girlfriend Justine Frishmann from Elastica. He couldn't believe the way girls and boys would just meet up in pubs & clubs to get off with each other.

On sunny beaches

Take your chances 

Looking for ...

It's easy to look back at the nineties through rose-tinted glasses (and believe me ... I do!) but it's easy to forget that Labour didn't come to power until May 1997, in the dying embers of Britpop. Albarn beautifully captures some of the challenges faced by the youth of the day in a line that is almost thrown away at the start of the second verse;

Avoiding all work

Cause there's none available

The song is just two verses and that incredibly catchy chorus that is repeated joyfully again and again and again. But just to give you something else to sing to, Albarn throws in an extra little hook while Graham Coxon pushes a phaser effect on his guitar and cranks it up. 

Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh

Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh

Girls & Boys is energetic, contagious pop music, this was the Britpop klaxon sounding loud and clear. If Suede kicked down the door then Blur were the first to steam through.

Official video

Live on The Word

Pet Shop Boys remix