Tag Archives: Celtic Connections

Celtronika, Old Fruitmarket,29th Jan, Acts8-14

Celtronika, Old Fruitmarket,29th Jan, Acts8-14

Wednesday, 03 August 2011

My designated driver, Shields, & I take a Soda and a 5am Saint onboard, respectively, while in Blackfriars, before waltzing around the corner to join what is a very short queue indeed. Again, I wonder aloud whether Celtic Connections is spreading itself too thinly. In no time at all, we are allowed into the venue. This time the perma-changing hall is laid out with tables and chairs and the bar stays open throughout.

We plunk ourselves down at the front of the stage, dead centre and congratulate ourselves for getting such a good vantage point.

While the sound system tinkles out Delia Derbyshire-like sounds and roadies tinker around with whatever, I ask a security man what time the event might finish before bursting out laughing when he tells me that the last act is due on stage at 03:00…. some eight hours away!

Wearing a suit that gives this the viewer the impression that it may have been Weetabix no so long ago, Vic Galloway comes on and introduces the first of the acts…………………

This looked promising. What I hoped would be The Bluebell Polka meets Sooty’s Cyber Abbatoir crashed even before it took off. With only a ten minute slot to woo us with, the unnamed band’s ageing computers took the huff and had to go through an involved reboot that must have lasted for half their time. Featuring Lau’s Martin Green, his droll patter during the technical brown spots was just as good, if not better, as the finally emerging music.

This looked promising. What I hoped would be The Bluebell Polka meets Sooty’s Cyber Abbatoir crashed even before it took off. With only a ten minute slot to woo us with, the unnamed band’s ageing computers took the huff and had to go through an involved reboot that must have lasted for half their time. Featuring Lau’s Martin Green, his droll patter during the technical brown spots was just as good, if not better, as the finally emerging music.

My nemesis Sushil K Dade (rivalled only by the seemingly equally talentless Duglas) marshalled his Future Pilot Indian Pop Art Orkestra on to the stage.A ramshackle crew wearing red and black in what we can only presume is a homage to Ralf ‘n’ Flo. It’s a small price to have to pay, I suppose, to endure this vanity project in order to witness the other lurking gems (and, to be fair and give him some credit, he was responsible for the very enjoyable Sly & Robbie Burns Night in the same venue a while back). However I just don’t get him. On paper, I should, but it always seems slapdash and under-rehearsed. I am honestly shocked when MC Vic announces that Dade’s next album will involve contributions from Eno & Robert Wyatt. Hmmm!

My nemesis Sushil K Dade (rivalled only by the seemingly equally talentless Duglas) marshalled his Future Pilot Indian Pop Art Orkestra on to the stage.A ramshackle crew wearing red and black in what we can only presume is a homage to Ralf ‘n’ Flo.
It’s a small price to have to pay, I suppose, to endure this vanity project in order to witness the other lurking gems (and, to be fair and give him some credit, he was responsible for the very enjoyable Sly & Robbie Burns Night in the same venue a while back). However I just don’t get him. On paper, I should, but it always seems slapdash and under-rehearsed. I am honestly shocked when MC Vic announces that Dade’s next album will involve contributions from Eno & Robert Wyatt. Hmmm!

You can seldom go wrong with two drummers, as fans of King Crimson and The Glitter band will testify. So it was no surprise that The Hidden Orchestra, with a brace of beaters, and a guesting Fraser Fifield upped the ante during a short but memorable set.<br /><br />
So good that I bought the album next day.

You can seldom go wrong with two drummers, as fans of King Crimson and The Glitter band will testify. So it was no surprise that The Hidden Orchestra, with a brace of beaters, and a guesting Fraser Fifield upped the ante during a short but memorable set.

So good that I bought the album next day.

Just prior to Craig Armstrong, and when the Pastels DJ set was showing everyone how it should be done by playing loud slabs of Kraftwerk,  I found my mind wandering. To my great surprise, I was snapped out of this on discovering that Davros had put his name down for the interval karaoke and actually does quite a mean Maria Carey (with the appropriate Melisma).

Just prior to Craig Armstrong, and when the Pastels DJ set was showing everyone how it should be done by playing loud slabs of Kraftwerk,  I found my mind wandering. To my great surprise, I was snapped out of this on discovering that Davros had put his name down for the interval karaoke and actually does quite a mean Maria Carey (with the appropriate Melisma).

Craig Armstrong, One Morning<br /><br />
Wow! I thought Craig might walk on to a lone piano, but no, two double basses, four cellos, a laptopper and female singer all accompanied him, while a video of dawn slowly revealing a lone CCTV car park camera and an island (Arran?) played out on a screen behind them. It was gorgeous and on more than one occasion had me thinking fondly of Gorecki&rsquo;s Third Symphony.The performance was ruined completely by a shower of noisy bastards at the bar. Realised I must have been getting visibly angry when a stranger at my table told me just to ignore them.

Craig Armstrong, One Morning

Wow! I thought Craig might walk on to a lone piano, but no, two double basses, four cellos, a laptopper and female singer all accompanied him, while a video of dawn slowly revealing a lone CCTV car park camera and an island (Arran?) played out on a screen behind them. It was gorgeous and on more than one occasion had me thinking fondly of Gorecki’s Third Symphony.The performance was ruined completely by a shower of noisy bastards at the bar. Realised I must have been getting visibly angry when a stranger at my table told me just to ignore them.

When I hear the term &lsquo;electronica&rsquo;, I think of perhaps Basil Kirchin, Brian Eno, Neu, Harmonia etc. Having had a ring side seat since the start of the evening, I am suddenly surrounded by a crowd of noisy drunken teuchters here to bear witness to Skye&rsquo;s Niteworks. They&rsquo;re shite, the sort of drivel you hear from pre-pubescent neds upstairs on a late night bus heading to Drumchapel or from an iffy software stall at the Barras. The ensuing crowd invasion (the same bastards that chattered and guffawed all through One Morning) of what I had considered my little fiefdom is led by none other than the teflon headed Calum from the Wobble gig. God this bloke is a Grade -A Wanker.<br /><br />
Everyone, except me, seems to be having a good time. I suspect they&rsquo;re probably relieved at having a night off from tending their livestock but by the smell they can&rsquo;t be too far off either.

When I hear the term ‘electronica’, I think of perhaps Basil Kirchin, Brian Eno, Neu, Harmonia etc. Having had a ring side seat since the start of the evening, I am suddenly surrounded by a crowd of noisy drunken teuchters here to bear witness to Skye’s Niteworks. They’re shite, the sort of drivel you hear from pre-pubescent neds upstairs on a late night bus heading to Drumchapel or from an iffy software stall at the Barras. The ensuing crowd invasion (the same bastards that chattered and guffawed all through One Morning) of what I had considered my little fiefdom is led by none other than the teflon headed Calum from the Wobble gig. God this bloke is a Grade -A Wanker.

Everyone, except me, seems to be having a good time. I suspect they’re probably relieved at having a night off from tending their livestock but by the smell they can’t be too far off either.

Chemikal Underground&rsquo;s latest darlings, Found, perpetually championed by Vic Galloway, were in a word tedious.

Chemikal Underground’s latest darlings, Found, perpetually championed by Vic Galloway, were in a word tedious.
The night was drawing on and we were beginning to wilt ever so slightly!Catriona McKay and Alistair MacDonald’s Strange Rainbow were the final act that we witnessed. At around two a.m., Catriona started making soundscapes on the harp with what was either a Pifco Cocktail Stirrer, her vibrator or an e-bow (it was dark!). All this was being sampled, processed and regurgitated via MacDonalds Mac, in a similar fashion to Leafcutter John&rsquo;s role in Polar Bear. I actually quite enjoyed this.<br /><br />
 Adios Celtronika, a good idea on paper but didn&rsquo;t quite gel for me, thanks

The night was drawing on and we were beginning to wilt ever so slightly!
Catriona McKay and Alistair MacDonald’s Strange Rainbow were the final act that we witnessed. At around two a.m., Catriona started making soundscapes on the harp with what was either a Pifco Cocktail Stirrer, her vibrator or an e-bow (it was dark!). All this was being sampled, processed and regurgitated via MacDonalds Mac, in a similar fashion to Leafcutter John’s role in Polar Bear. I actually quite enjoyed this.

Adios Celtronika, a good idea on paper but didn’t quite gel for me, thanks

   

Richard Thompson, GRCH, 27th Jan, Act #07

 It’s Celtic Connections at The Concert Hall, so once again I meet Big Chris, this time sans wee bro’, in The Station Bar. We are joined by his friends from Ferryhill who despite living there and drinking in The Blue Lamp, quite amazingly, do not know Professor Poinky. Off to the gig where we meet my good friend Billy Bones. An ageing crowd reminds us all how long Richard has been plying his trade. One poor wanker/wannabee even sports a black beret, in the Thomson stylee!

Entering the hall we are confronted by a number of video cameras intent on capturing all the action for the BBC.It occurs to me that in all my years of this stuff, I’ve never actually been at one being filmed.

A cone of white light stabs the stage and into that cone walks a corpse. If not a corpse, then someone that at least has been on the business end of a morgul-blade! A familiar voice emanates from the PA and I realise that Mister Death Warmed-Up is actually Bob Harris, Rolf’s younger brother who used to host TOGWT.

Time was when bands used to tour material, in order to lick it into shape, before going into the studio for recording. Bootlegging has put paid to all that, these days. However with this tour, Richard Thompson has somewhat bucked the trend. Touring the USA and nightly playing a whole set of unrecorded tunes before finally recording them live certainly takes what some of us call ’cohones’.The resulting album Dream Attic takes up the first half of the set and it’s all rather fine indeed. I always think Thompson solos more like a horn player than a guitarist, more Coltrane than Clapton.The two lengthy solos before the interval are so good I’m not sure what he can pull out the hat (or beret) after the break.

Mr Bones, meanwhile, has had to nip out to pee and takes advantage of encountering an empty bar to buy the interval drinks, unaware that Shields is once again designated Driver. We arrive at the bar to discover he’s doubled up the round, so it’s Two pints of Guinness for yours truly and Two G&Ts for the non-drinking driver. Aware that there are sober children in Third World countries, I do the decent thing and neck them all.

Set #2 is a run through of better known, as well as some quite obscure, older material.Billy B claims, to my amazement, to never having heard Al Bowlly’s in Heaven. It never quite reaches the heights of the stuff we experienced before the break, however this could well be down to having what appears to be Dick Van Dyke on sax and what is quite clearly Fabio Capello on bass.
Dick Van Dyke dressed as Acker Bilk while Fabio considers the wisdom of playing in 4-4-2 time.

Dick Van Dyke dressed as Acker Bilk while Fabio considers the wisdom of playing in 4-4-2 time.

Jah Wobble & The Nippon Dub Ensemble, The Arches 22nd Jan Act # 06

Jah Wobble & The Nippon Dub Ensemble, The Arches 22nd Jan Act # 06

Ah feel facken orful tonight! A lesser person would have cancelled but I’m obviously of sterner stuff” So spake a flu ridden John Wardle as he eventually took the stage. With the pallor of a Poundstretchers candle and dressed like a slightly psychedelic Arthur Daley, Wobble then led the band through a very similar set to that witnessed at last year’s ABC2 gig. The bass is omnipresent; you feel it in your gut, the backs of your trouser legs resonate in sympathy,when you open your mouth your gullet tickles at that particular frequency. It’s awesome, the only time I’ve experienced anything like this before was Robbie Shakespeare.

How often do you go along to a gig saying to yourself “I do hope they play Cherry Blossom of My Youth and they never do? Happens to me far too often for my liking, but not tonight. The Nippon Dub Ensemble do their thing which  is, as ever, sublime. Tonight they were;
Jah Wobble – bass, vocal
Claire Rose – vocals
Clive Bell – flutes, harmonica, melodica Keiko Kitamura – koto, vocal
Emi Watanabe – flute, vocal
Kumiko Suzuki – taiko, percussion, vocal
Chris Cookson – guitar
Marc Layton-Bennet –  drums
Neville Murray – percussion
Sean Corby – trumpet, French horn
George King – Keyboard

After forty minutes or so the band slide into more of a Lovers Rock thing Althea & Donna, Augustus Pablo. Rimshots and echo galore “It’s dub, Jim, but not as we know it!”. Wobble announces the girls are going off for a rest and brings on two new players on keys and cornet. Suddenly they take a sharp left turn and with the aid of a Harmon Mute we’re off into Miles Electric Period (MEP!). I’m conscious of grinning like a Cheshire cat, as you don’t hear enough stuff like this these days. Dark Magus indeed! At the same time I’m very aware that it’s very much of it’s moment and a boot wouldn’t do it justice (p.s. I’ve since bought the album ’7’ and am correct, you had to be there!). Gig of the year so far, however!
Thirty hurts!

Thirty hurts!

Calum MacCrimmon – Man’s Ruin , The Arches, Jan 22nd, (act #05)

Calum MacCrimmon – Man’s Ruin , The Arches, Jan 22nd, (act #05)

Friday, 08 April 2011

I’m not exactly a great fan of bands exhorting their audience to clap and sing along; which is exactly the scene that confronted us when we turned up, albeit slightly late, to this one, after being locked in a car park! My heart sank as we were immediately marshalled through one of those ‘Okay,when I sing XXX then you lot sing YYY!’ My, how we both laughed and made a beeline immediately barwards!

However, as the set moved along, I slightly warmed to their very different styles. Indeed the designated driver remarked to me that the final tune was somewhat reminiscent of Uncle Meat, while I thought the preceding tune had more than just a KC ‘Islands era’ flavour about it.

Having given the thumbs up to this venue when seeing Faust last year, I was disappointed to be presented by yet another configuration of The Arches complex. Only time I’ve seen it set up in this configuration was, Tinariwen, a couple of years back. Perhaps it’s the projected attendance that decides these things. Yet again, like the earlier Fruitmarket show, there couldn’t have been more than three hundred at this show and questions arise about how much subsidy Celtic Connections accrues and spends.It just don’t add up!

A strange and intriguing collection of instruments were paraded by this sextet, Two flutes, acoustic and electric guitars, bouzouki, bagipes, bass (six string no less) and drums. I wasn’t completely convinced by the frontman Calum though. with a forehead that could have stepped straight out of a TEFAL TV commercial, he came on like a Martyn Bennett Wannabee, as far as I could determine; desperate to change instrument(s) at least once per tune. What the cognoscenti in them here parts call “a tosser”.

He must have missed the soundcheck and assumed the following act was Krautrock as his parting shot was ‘can’t wait to see Yah Wobble’
Calum Gilhooley MacCrimmon.

Calum Gilhooley MacCrimmon.