Category Archives: Concerts

Runrig farewell concert

When I read in the local paper last autumn that Runrig were going to play their farewell concert in Stirling, I thought nothing of it. Because I’d never heard of them.

It’s not as if stuff mentioned in the Stirling Observer tends to be world news, exactly. I simply saw that some unknown group were going to play here. Within days the concert sold out, which was surprising, but then maybe not. I could see that a few hundred or even a thousand people might be interested. Music is nice, after all.

Runrig, last concert

And now it seems that with a second concert added, we are doubling the town’s population for the weekend. 45 000 people are invading, some of them from Australia.

Once this fact had sunk in, I asked the Resident IT Consultant, who is not known for being cool, if he had heard of Runrig. Before all this broke lose, I mean. He had. Daughter had. And Son. So that just left me. It was suggested that living so long in England might be the reason, as the English aren’t fond of culture from north of the border.

I spent last night trying to ascertain who I should compare Runrig to, just to get a reliable measure of how famous they are. Not so much who else plays that kind of music, but simply the level of fame. I’m not sure we managed an answer to that, except a lot more famous than I’d thought.

Then asked what kind of music they play… So Daughter treated us to an impromptu Spotify concert on her phone.

Not bad, I suppose.

And we might not be one of the 45 000, but it appears we will be able to hear the concert if we open the windows. More, if we go for a short walk, but that would probably mean in the company of the rest of Stirling; the ones who don’t have tickets.

Advertisements

McCartney at my dining table

How things change!

There I was, idly clicking the link to Paul McCartney singing in James Corden’s car. I thought it’d be a few minutes, but I was in a post-dinner lull, so could afford the 25 minutes required. It was a great programme, but that’s not really what I wanted to mention here.

It set me thinking about how it’s financed; how I am able to watch it via YouTube and not even sit through commercials. I don’t know. But I appreciate it. And I can watch it again, with no need for a video recorder and available space on a tape, or any other recording technique requiring forethought.

And on my phone, not even a computer needed. Yes, I know a phone is a computer, really. I meant no large machine needed. Just me and the quiet after dinner. I don’t even object to James Corden, and I’m someone who objects very easily to people. I’m thinking he’s saved by being a History Boy. Once a HB always a HB.

The quality of the recording, both sound and image, is almost like a miracle after the early days of wobbly YouTube or the old video recordings of thirty years ago.

If I’d known then that I’d be able to watch something like this on a tiny handheld contraption, I’d not have believed it.

Nor would Mother-of-witch, back in 1964, maybe, when she sacrificed herself and went to the cinema with the very young witch to see a Beatles film. Possibly A Hard Day’s Night. I don’t recall. It was the Beatles. That’s all that mattered. And all that screaming. The teenage girls must have thought they were at a Beatles concert, and not in a small provincial Swedish cinema.

Back then we definitely couldn’t watch again, at least not after the one – possibly two – weeks the film was on, to disappear and never be seen again. It certainly didn’t end up on television. If it had, then two or three decades later it would have been possible to record it, and watch again. Until the tape wore out.

And here I am, even more decades on, idly discovering a programme on my phone and simply allowing myself to sit there and enjoy. That’s progress. At least, I hope it is. There’s more to life than watching Paul McCartney, but in this day and age it might be best to take whatever good stuff comes our way. In case that’s all there is.

Eurovision 2018

Strobe lighting. Eurovision was better without it. I can close my eyes as well as the next witch. But when I do, and especially at this time of night, the inevitable becomes, well, inevitable, and I fall asleep.

Daughter was saying she liked the German entry, and I was puzzled, not having noticed it. I dozed off with Serbia and completely missed Germany.

So what do I think? I liked Ireland. Norway wasn’t bad, and Spain got better for each short repeat. I liked Slovenia’s hair, and Finland’s outfit. France was OK, and that’s something I don’t often say. The vampire needed an interpreter. Or did he?

Didn’t mind who won out of Cyprus and Israel. I disliked both. And Daughter was somewhat scandalised at my negative view of the Swedish entry. Well, it did nothing for me. And if the singer is who Daughter reported him to be, then he’s part of a dynasty, and as such is successful enough as it is.

It was fun to see Daniela Ruah not wrestling people to the ground, or shooting them, even if her first dress was rather ghastly. Although, where was Kensi when ‘our’ SuRie was attacked? A good wrestling to the floor would have been useful.

And Graham Norton is tiresomely not Terry Wogan.

He rocked on the left

And now he’s left us. Jerry Williams was – if not one of a kind – then definitely one of few. He might not have been Sweden’s answer to Elvis. Jerry – really Erik Fernström – who died on Sunday at the age of 75, rocked. But perhaps not that way. He was cooler. He was more your leather jacket and motorbike kind of man.

We have had a few of those. What made Jerry stand out was his political convictions, starting out as a communist, and remaining a communist all his life. Some people forget where they came from, once success finds them. From what I hear, Jerry stayed true and relatively unspoilt all his life.

Jerry Williams, Varberg

I only saw him in concert once, about twelve years ago, when he came to Societetsparken in Varberg. He was as great as I’d expected him to be, the children liked him, and everyone else I spoke to seemed to be big fans. Usually when you chat to people, you find some who don’t share your taste. Young and old, they all loved him.

Fare thee well, Joan Baez – for now

She’s still got a long way to go with this, her ‘final’ big tour. I believe Scandinavia and now parts of Britain are just the beginning for Joan Baez. We caught her in Glasgow on Friday night, and it took me a few songs to work out why I felt different.

I simply don’t know when I was last surrounded by so many people of mostly the right political persuasion. And they sing so well! There’s a special feeling when an audience joins in and many voices sing together. Anyone not fluent in Spanish, was still able to lalala along with Gracias a la vida.

Although Joan has a new album out – Whistle down the wind – she knew to dish the new songs out sparingly to keep the fans happy. Some of the songs, like House of the rising sun, are only new to her, which makes life easier. There’s no mistaking that songs like Farewell Angelina and Joe Hill go down best. We like what we like.

It was good to hear that all the names of the formerly unknown victims of the plane crash in Deportee have now been discovered, and that Joan has sung to their surviving families. It’s been far too long.

Joan paid tribute to the teenagers in Florida, saying it’s the first positive anti-gun movement she has known in her life. Joan also sang a beautiful song about how President Obama sang Amazing Grace to the members of the church in Charleston, after another mass shooting. Sometimes songs like that are worthier than they are beautiful, but this one was just right.

When Joan was sixteen, her family feared she was going nowhere, only playing the banjo, so an aunt took her to hear Pete Seeger, and that seems to have done the trick. She mentioned Dylan, and she sang Me and Bobby McGee, which really brought back memories. Sometimes it’s hard to grasp that Joan was a fully functioning and famous adult when I was still a child. (I’ve caught up pretty good now.)

As usual there was no interval, and Joan was on stage for the duration, accompanied by Dirk Powell on ‘all’ instruments and her son Gabe on drums, with her assistant Grace running in with a freshly tuned guitar after each song. Joan had a tray with her drinks on, which were put to good use when a fan insisted on giving her a flower. I’d like to think it was a tulip. I hope she remembered not to accidentally drink the tulip.

The local ‘polite’ song was a [to me] unknown Scottish ballad; the only one Joan required sheet music for. Understandable if there is a new one for every part of the world.

Gracias a la vida was the last official song, but Joan said not to worry. We promptly got Dixie and Imagine as extras, followed by that famous road song, Swing Low Sweet Chariot, with plenty of hints that it was time to go home. When that didn’t work, she resorted to Homeward Bound.

So we went home. But for anyone wanting to catch Joan, there is plenty of her Fare Thee Well tour left, all the way through to 2019.

Fair Fairweather

Eight years isn’t too late to review a concert, is it?

Daughter says it isn’t, but she seems to have forgotten the whole evening, which is surprising for someone who remembers everything, especially when I don’t.

So, Dennis Locorriere came to the Lowry back in 2010 (although the rate at which he tours, I’m sure he’s been back several times since). I’d been looking forward to it, as the time I saw him before that, was one of those magical evenings. But this time – eight years ago – he half lost his shine.

Though that’s not what I want to tell you about.

Dennis had someone there to play first, and I hate that! This was someone I’d never heard of; Andy Fairweather Low. Yes, I realise I was unusual in this. But anyway. There was Andy, looking like a middle-aged bank manager, singing unexpected songs in a most unexpected voice. I hoped he wouldn’t take too long over it.

But you just never know when you’ll fall in love, do you? No, not that way. Just the music.

By the second song I was enjoying this bank manager in his brown suit. I was more than pleased that he sang for about 45 minutes, which is a thought that would have shocked me when he started.

In the interval before Dennis came on, I rushed out to beat the queue to buy Andy’s CDs and have them signed. I was second, but had the bad luck to be second after a really big fan. But that was enlightening in itself, as I realised some people had actually come to hear Andy, rather than Dennis. So I listened in on the conversation, and eventually got my CDs signed, and went back in.

That’s when I experienced a certain level of disappointment. But I have already written about that here, and been told off by a fan, so there’s no need to go into that again.

I have listened a lot to Andy Fairweather Low since then, always enjoying his singing. I have also, slightly fruitlessly, looked online every now and then in the hopes he’d be coming to a stage near me, but somehow the time or the place never seemed right.

(In my current situation, I can heartily recommend coming to the Stirling Albert Halls. If they’re good enough for Jimmy Osmond…)

And then what?

When do you give up on the work by someone you’ve liked and admired?

I’m thinking – again – of the latest film producer to have caused a public storm and upset. But – again – it could be anyone discovered to have seriously misbehaved and sometimes not getting found out. These [usually] men have often done great work, in film, music, theatre, literature.

And when the news breaks, some of us find that we have been fans of a monster. If it’s really bad, it’s not too hard to stop watching their films or listening to their music.

But if it’s a bit more borderline? Or they have been involved with so much on the cultural scene, that it can be hard to draw a line, or even to know where that line is.

I was relieved to learn I didn’t have to ‘respect’ Jimmy Savile, so that was no hardship. Likewise OJ Simpson. But it took me a while to know what to do about Rolf Harris. It’s not that I didn’t believe the accusations. I just couldn’t tell how it would affect my fondness for his work. It was gradual, but not slow, and I knew when it was time to delete his albums from iTunes. The books went to the local charity shop, where quite possibly they languished until pulped.

Speaking of books, I have a friend who meets famous people through her work. Luckily I’ve never read anything by the very well known, older male writer she mentioned once. I can’t unsee that unwanted kiss in my mind, and I’m just grateful he wasn’t someone I liked. But whenever I see a photo of this author, it’s all I can think of. No literary merit whatsoever.

And I know what I said in my other post, about being too polite. I was far too polite about the last Rolf Harris concert I went to. It was lacklustre. He was clearly under pressure already, except we didn’t know it.

This Weinstein business is awkward. I have no hesitation blaming the man for anything that’s being said. But he’s been involved in so many films. Good films. Do they need boycotting from now on, or was he too far removed from them, for it not to matter? I mean, I generally don’t even know who produced a film.

To go back to iTunes, I have a couple of albums on there, sung by someone I used to know. Someone who behaved in an unacceptable manner to me about a year ago. I have no problem skipping past the new album, which I didn’t like much. But the really old one; I have always loved it. It’s just when one of those tracks comes on, it’s difficult to forget what she said. It takes the edge off my enjoyment.

So I don’t know.