Festivals · Gigs · Music

Bright Phoebus Revisited

Well, I thought it was great.
The Mitchell Theatre in Glasgow on Wednesday night, after an epic bus journey from Edinburgh (the capital) to Glasgow (Scotland’s major city) of 2 hours and ten minutes – for forty-five miles, in normal weather.
Infrastructure, we got it.
Martin Carthy, Marry Waterson, Eliza Carthy, Richard Reed Parry from Arcade Fire and supporting cast MD’d by Kate St. John.

Bright Phoebus Revisited live Glasgow

They did the record proud and I got Marry and Martin’s autographs on my Bright Phoebus booklet with the great sleevenote by Pete Paphides.

Festivals · Movies · Music

Teenage Superstars

This sequel to Grant McPhee’s Big Gold Dream had its world premiere at Edinburgh International Film Festival last Thursday 22 June, the final cut apparently only arriving in Edinburgh just before midnight in 21 June…

Big Gold Dream was a big hit at the festival two years ago and I think may have won the best film award  at the time.  That surprised me, because the night I saw the film, it seemed more like a good 40-minute TV documentary padded out to feature film length.  Nonetheless, it went on to much success and plaudit, so what do I know?

So I wasn’t eagerly waiting on the “sequel,” directed again by Grant McPhee.

As it turns out, Teenage Superstars is much more captivating that Big Gold Dream; maybe it’s just a more interesting story of more interesting people.  As can be gleaned from the title, this film is about the Glasgow scene of the 1980’s and concentrates on The Jesus and Mary Chain, Primal Scream, Teenage Fanclub, The Vaselines, The Soup Dragons, The Pastels and BMX Bandits.  The interdependence of many of the bands and individuals in the scene is stressed over and over – often one band would have a high percentage of common members – and the influence of Stephen Pastel, Duglas T Stewart and Bobby Gillespie as taste-makers and facilitators is presented cogently with many interviews with the first two, but not, frustratingly, with Gillespie.  Frustratingly, as he is cited on many occasions for his influence.

I really enjoyed the first hour and thought that the issues I had with Big Gold Dream had been illusory, or maybe the result of seeing a very early edit.  The second half really slowed down though and the continued repetition of the same pieces of footage and still pictures began to jar.  There was something a bit weird with the music as well, which I assume is due to clearances – sometimes a piece of music under discussion was not what was being played on the soundtrack (Primal Scream) or a band’s music was presented solely through TV or film appearances.

Still, I woke up the next day in a fantastic mood, which I was sure was due to this film, for the most part a fine and cheering story of a bunch of people with enough self-belief to obviate failure.  I expect it will do better and be more fondly remembered than its predecessor.

Edinburgh Festivals - the Film Festival 2017 - Teenage Superstars



God of Carnage, Tron Theatre, Glasgow

I went to Glasgow on Saturday 18th March to watch Bridget Christie’s show Because You Demanded It in the evening.  I had managed to miss all of her highly praised shows in Edinburgh last year as I was committed to something else at the time of each of her performances during the Fringe.

Travelling between Edinburgh and Glasgow nowadays is a fair commitment in terms of time and to an extent, money.  A proper country would have a bullet train or some similar arrangement between that country’s capital and its major city; here, it takes nearly two hours to travel the forty-four miles from city centre to city centre on a bus; although the train does not take as long, you’re less likely to get a seat and it is (to me) too expensive for too little gain in time.

(But hey, we’ve got trams in Edinburgh which take you from the airport to a shopping centre to a business park to Haymarket Station to quite near Waverley Station and then terminate before they do the return journey.)

So it is desirable to maximise the bang per buck, or the power per hour for the Edinburgh/Glasgow journey.  Luckily, I’d noticed that there was a production of Yasmina Reza’s God of Carnage on at the Tron Theatre and there was a matinee on the afternoon I would be making my lengthy journey.  The final selling point was that Lorraine McIntosh was among the cast; I had enjoyed seeing her act in NTS’s production of Men Should Weep some years ago (she is, of course, also the focal point of Deacon Blue’s stage) and was keen to see how she would do comedy.  (The answer to that question is “very well indeed…”)

This is a rehearsal picture from the director’s Twitter…


God of Carnage Glasgow Tron

I was first aware of God of Carnage from Polanski’s film version (called Carnage) in 2011, although as I wrote at the time, my enjoyment of the movie was somewhat compromised by having seen two cuts of the trailer so many times that there were few surprises in the actual film.

It’s a simple enough story; two well-off, well educated couples meet to resolve the aftermath of a fight between the respective couples’ sons and during the course of a couple of hours, what starts off as a civilised discussion turns into a bunfight involving rum, projectile vomiting and regression to feral gender and societal archetypes.  Polanski set it in New York, the Tron’s production was set in France.

The Tron Theatre is a lovely experience.  There’s a pleasant, well lit bar and sufficient staff to provide excellent customer care to get you to your seat.  A word also for the lovely lady who sat at the edge of the stage interpreting the play in sign language – I am always so impressed at the stamina that must take.

I was in the front row, which allowed me to take in Karen Tennent’s excellent design for the stage.  All the action of the piece is set in one room of an apartment and that one room was indeed represented, but the main stage was surrounded by a moat of softplay balls, which I thought were simply for effect until the first time one of the cast fell into them.  Thereafter, submersion in the balls allowed the characters to fight and bicker like the children the play has them become; or to freeform drunkenly, protected from physical harm.


Maggie Simpson God of Carnage

Direction by Gareth Nicholls was bright, to the point and allowed the cast to shine.  God of Carnage is not deep, but it’s not meant to be.  Nothing wrong with a fun afternoon at the theatre watching a well written play which is well designed, directed and acted.  We are blessed.

It runs until 25 March.

Gigs · Music · Pubs

Roy Wood in Glasgow 26 February 2017

Roy Wood in the Griffin Bar Glasgow with Stuart Ferguson


This picture was taken last week in The Griffin in Glasgow, before Roy’s show at The King’s Theatre.

This show was announced late last year, much to my surprise.  Roy Wood was probably the only artist I had not seen that I would have liked to see, that I could see and my friend Barry hipped me late on a Sunday night via Facebook that the Roy Wood tour would be coming to Glasgow.  (Actually, that’s not strictly true; I did see Wizzard at the Edinburgh Odeon when I was young, in the 70s, but it was a matinee show and even as young as I was, I knew they were holding back a bit for the adults’ show later…)

He appears to have kept a low profile over the last decades, touring sporadically and not very often, which is a shame for an artist who has not really had the widespread acclaim for his work with The Move, Wizzard, Electric Light Orchestra and indeed his eclectic and always entertaining solo work.

Late in the evening though it was, I got on to the King’s Theatre website and got two tickets in the front row.  I went to bed happy with the glad tidings…

A couple of days later, I wanted to check whether I had requested the tickets to be sent out or to be retained at the box office, so I went back to the website to check.

It was confirmed I had two tickets in Row U…which didn’t sound like the front row.

Now, I may have had a couple of glasses when booking, but I’m not that bad, so I checked the seating plan for the stalls of The King’s theatre and sure enough, I was not alone – most of the back three rows of the stalls had been booked, the front few rows being fairly sparsely taken.

The way the stalls are laid out is the opposite way round to everybody else’s seating plans, so everyone had assumed the long row was the front row.

It got fixed though.  I was in Glasgow earlier in the year and went to pick up my Row U tickets and was able to swap them for Row D.

So, before the show last week, my friends and I were in The Griffin, which was unusually quiet, at least until Roy and some of his band walked in, then it got quite busy, which I guess is the power of social media.

The show itself was great.  Mr Wood was relaxed and delivered everything I wanted.  Even the encore of “I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday” did not seem too incongruous in late February.

Thanks to Barry for the picture below.

Roy Wood gigs live in Glasgow 2017