Celtronika, Old Fruitmarket,29th Jan, Acts8-14
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.
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.
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).
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 ‘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’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’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