Posts Tagged ‘ Live Music ’


Anohni-The Playhouse, Edinburgh
Having already released one of the best albums of the year, Hopelessness, and what also must rate as one of the most cohesive and affecting protest albums of all time Anohni delivers a live show of unparalleled strength, beauty and inventiveness.
Drawing heavily on her New York performance art background and connections, the Hopelessness live outing brings new intrigues and intelligence to rock as theater and in the process creates a live show unlike any other.
Opening with a twenty minute film of Naomi Campbell- admittedly an incongruous choice to promote a performance which centres around the un-justness of the world; a spoilt supermodel who demands diamonds as payment and hits assistants with mobile phones- dancing in a cavernous bunker clad only in a bikini, heels and a hat which resembles the crown of the Statue of Liberty accompanied by a soundtrack which sounded like a crashing wave synthesised with white noise.
Obviously timed to test the audience’s patience, it was only during the last two minutes that a restless edginess set in and people started to talk amongst themselves, they were soon silenced as the instantly recognisable voice of Anohni broke through from out of the darkness and gave a stunning rendition of Hopelessness.
It wasn’t until the second number 4 Degrees that she made her way onto the stage and then all that could be seen was a series of black silhouettes clad in what resembled a burqa crossed with a beekeeper’s outfit.
Obviously never comfortable in the spotlight- her uneasiness was apparent when I saw her before in her previous incarnation of Antony- this is as much of Anohni as will be seen throughout this performance, instead a series of women on a huge screen at the back of the stage mouth the lyrics in perfect synchronicity. It is a highly effective way of getting the lyrics across and their faces bear the pain of the emotional content in the songs. Anohni herself makes only the briefest of appearances on the screen thus letting others present the lyrics for her.
When she does move across the stage it is minimal but highly effective; during the bleak attack of ‘Obama’ she strides back and forward like John Merrick, the Elephant Man, in the David Lynch film.
The music itself is faultlessly performed by Daniel Lopatin and Hudson Mohawke creating banks of sound from either side of the stage to great effect. None of her old repertoire or recordings are aired in this show and there is neither a cello or piano in sight or within earshot; this is a whole new phase of Anohni’s career and one she obviously wishes to stand on its own very impressive merits.
It is a totally innovative show crackling with inventiveness- it does adopt a theme and stick with it but it is an extremely effective theme-and modernity. Definitely one to beat as far as live music goes as it gives the whole genre a brand new context and perspective.


Alien Lullabies: Songs From A Decaying Future
Doll Entrance 300dpi
Opening with hurtling images akin to an alien crash landing accompanied by manic, dislocated electronic scratching and whirling sounds this collaborative production between musician and singer Fiona Soe Paing and animator Zennor Alexander sets out its disorientating agenda from the get go.
For the first few minutes the audience is bombarded with sounds and visions creating and unsettling ambience that continues as the music settles itself into a slinky, pulsating electronic throb simultaneously detached in its pristine iciness and warm in an all-encompassing cocooning fashion.
Against the animated background and positioning herself slightly off centre Soe Paing makes her entrance shrouded in a black straw hat and high heels providing a mysterious charismatic figure. Almost straight away she starts singing in a mixture of English and Burmese creating what sound like filtered messages from another world, with lyrics slightly out of reach and beyond our comprehension. Meanwhile the bleeps, whooshes and whirrs of the electronic back beat provide the backbone and erratic heartbeat set against Alexander’s stunning animated responses featuring gliding swans and trains as modes of transport, mutant forms forming and collapsing alongside an arachnoid playing a harp. It becomes clear the vision here of the future ahead is not the shiny white pristine one we are promised in science fiction but instead it is decadent and decaying relying on machinery reminiscent of Fernand Léger’s cubist imagining of the future.
Whispers, screams, seductive cooing and distortion are just some of the many shapes and sounds Soe Paing summons up with her voice. Occasionally she leaves the stage and lets the visuals direct the narrative but it is the moments she is onstage that captivate and compel the most with her bi-lingual lyrics clarifying and confusing in equal measure. New single ‘Heartbeat’ is perhaps the slinkiest and most accessible of the tracks on show here tonight but it is in good company.
Alien Lullabies: Songs From A Decaying Future delivers on its title more than adequately. A stunning meld of sound and vision perfectly synchronised. If this is the future I want it now!
Alien Lullabies: Songs From A Decaying Future is on at Summerhall at 10.35pm until Sunday 23rd August


Martin Metcalfe and The Fornicators

Getting the notoriously fickle folk out of Edinburgh out on a Sunday night is no mean achievement, so from the moment I entered the packed ballroom of the Voodoo Rooms I was pleased to see that not only was the venue packed but there was also a great atmosphere to help things along the way.
Expectations were high and when Metcalfe took to the stage with his trusty band of cohorts and launched into a storming version of the Jacques Brel classic ‘Amsterdam’ expectations were met and the night was off to a great start. The visuals playing out on the backdrop more than adequately complemented the musical treats on offer and Metcalfe, whose voice is as strong as ever and in fact seems to have acquired added timbres lending extra emotional impact, rampaged through a set rooted in acoustics with an electric appeal. Rummaging through an impressive back catalogue drawing on numbers from both his Mackenzie and Angelfish days the hour long set captured emotional tension with musical gravitas.
Impressive moments-‘Amsterdam’ aside, which luckily was not him peaking too soon- included ‘Mummy Can’t Drive’, an impressive number about Deacon Brodie and an encore of ‘Goodwill City’. My personal favourites were ‘The Rattler’ anmd especially ‘Now We Are Married’ which was nowhere as big a hit as it should have been and took on a poignant realisation which only comes from experience and life.
Towards the end of the set he was joined onstage by old band-mate and close friend Paul Hullah who was suffering from slight ‘nervous exhaustion’ or may have been suffering from ‘inebriated jetlag’, having had a stopover in Istanbul a few days ago. It was a relaxed moment which could have strayed into shambolic territory but somehow redeemed itself and was in my opinion quietly brilliant as it showed that technical capability means nothing when those onstage are actually enjoying themselves.
All in all this was a great gig and showed that Metcalfe is still relevant and able to hold an audience’s attention. As for getting a full house on a Sunday night in Edinburgh, that is a success in itself!


Just An Observation Friday October 25th


Well the long awaited revolution so many of us have wished for gained some screen time on Newsnight this week and arrived not courtesy of the latest highly educated whiz kid politician but from the unlikely source of comedian/actor, Russell Brand. in a thoroughly engaging and convincing interview with regular curmudgeon Jeremy Paxman, or ‘Jeremy darling’ as he will henceforth be known thanks to Brand’s affectionate terming of this supposed political heavyweight, the entertainer put forward a thoroughly convincing and impassioned argument.
Admittedly never a great admirer of Brand’s in the past finding his stand up irritatingly puerile and the least said about his acting abilities-never mind his choice of roles and former wife, the even more irritating Katy Perry- the better. However he has gone someway to reconstructing himself as a social and cultural commentator and in this area I feel he is pretty much unsurpassed in addressing issues politicians, journalists and most other celebrities-Morrissey a notable exception occupies a lot of the same territory but more about him later- simply do not. Dismissed by Paxman as a ‘trivial man’ Brand’s calls for revolution may on the surface come across as exactly that but dig deeper into what he is actually saying and the truth provides a concrete basis for his vocal exhortations and facial grimaces. A cheesy smile occupied his face for most of the interview and Paxman would have done well to remember the old adage ‘Beware the smiling assassin’ as at the interview’s conclusion there was no doubt as to who had trounced who.
‘Profit is a filthy word’ and ‘not voting out of absolute indifference’ were just two notable quotes in an argument which at times was peppered with florally enhanced adjectives but still managed to put across its basic terms. There is no representation in politics for a huge part of our society and I am part of that section which has no representation. The best vote open to me is for the lesser of two evils
which may go someway in preventing the greater evil triumphing.
This option however is riddled with a fatal flaw as anyone who voted for the Liberal Democrats in the last General Election discovered. I remember speaking to a young first time voter shortly after the election when the Lib Dem’s had joined forces with the Tories in the disastrous collision still in power and he was already disillusioned as voting Liberal-which he considered the most humanitarian and fair option open to him- he had found himself complicit in electing the Tories into power when his objectives had been quite the opposite. This is the disillusioned and disenfranchised populous Brand was referring to who, from what I can see, are all around me and I number myself amongst them.
As for revolution well, why not? If the EDL can make political inroads in opposition to the fairer aspects of our political system why can’t we take charge and oppose the less fair ones. Sometimes it really is that simple it is just important to not let complacency get in the way. That is the real enemy!
As mentioned earlier Morrissey is just as much an activist and has spent his career being a proverbial fly in the ointment. It is unimportant whether you like his music or not although this week The Smiths album The Queen is Dead was voted the best album of all time in the NME in a chart which, for a change, seemed to possess some integrity and validity-two of my personal top three Patti Smith’s Horses and The Velvet Underground and Nico were there with only The New York Dolls missing from the top ten- but as an artist he has always spoken out on subjects others were too scared to address or considered taboo.
His Autobiography however is redefining that overworked genre and is brilliantly written in an area where the likes of nineteen year old Harry Styles- grew up in privileged background, entered talent show, made millions-proliferate and , that filthy word again, profit. It is also obvious that he has written this book himself and the use of language is impressive, evocative and wholly descriptive. Having grown up in the greyish blacks and whites of Manchester in the sixties and seventies this harsh reality never really left him even when, as the last of the international playboys, he is breakfasting with David Bowie. Intermittent snippets of conversation between these two figureheads and reluctant representatives of different generations allow us to discern that the world of the celebrity is mundane and all most of them have in common is their status and prestige. One senses he feels more comfortable with and in awe of the low rent ‘Carry On’ stars of his childhood than the Bowies, Julie Christies and other A-Listers he encounters.
As for his much publicised admission of a sex life, well that is done in true Morrissey fashion by alluding as opposed to out and out confession. If one gains any sense of a true love in Morrisey’s life then it can be directed towards the New York Dolls rather than any individual. Jake Walters would appear to come closest to capturing his heart but even he emerges as a temporary fixture whilst the Dolls are a constant source of joy and love throughout.
Definitely an autobiography which lives up to its apocryphal title and provides what most of us want from such a tome in that it names and shames constantly and he doesn’t stop at grinding his axe but continues to swing it with reckless abandon much to the reader’s delight and amusement. It is about time someone used their position to tell it how it is and just as refreshing is his deeply descriptive telling of pivotal life moments which also are not your typical fare.
Tonight sees 2013’s last instalment of Neu Reekie with an impressive line up including Withered Hand, Kei Miller, Rachel Mc Crum amongst others. The main act for me tonight bthough has to be Teen Canteen who are also promoting their excellent debut single ‘Honey’ coincidentally released on the Neu Reekie record label-these people are already following Brand’s doctrine of getting off their arses and making something happen. This is just one of several live gigs lined up around the country over the next coming weeks including one at RAMMED in the Voodoo Rooms on November 16th. Definitely one of the best Scottish acts on the circuit at the moment catch them while you can at these more intimate venues as it is only a matter of time before this changes as their star is very much in the ascendant.
Here to get your weekend off to a flying start is the video directed by Jonathan Feemantle of that aforementioned single ‘Honey’ released this week.


Neu Reekie 39 Sublimely Sliced


 Arriving slightly late-not my fault- we thought it best not to enter the show, disturbing others in our quest for a seat, whilst it was still in its early animation stages therefore repairing to the bar for a relaxing drink to wait for the first break in proceedings before making our entry. Unfortunately by making this miscalculation and due to a change in the format of the evening we also missed the set by Pumajaw who I had been hoping to catch.

 Meandering up the stairs the drifting sounds of the Nancy Sinatra classic ‘Bang Bang’ delivered in the hauntingly husky tones of Pinkie McClure delivered over an ambient wash by John Wills it became clear that this was the end of their set and unfortunately we were just in time to hear their last number. I wish I had caught more of their set however as what I did catch was highly impressive. Fortunately most of what came up next-we arrived in time for the first break-was also highly worthwhile.

 Janette Ayachi opened the next segment reading from her acclaimed collection ‘A Choir of Ghosts’ in her inimitable and individual style. This was followed by the Kaspar Jancis  animation piece ‘Crocodile’ from 2009 which told the tale of a down at heel opera start who is forced by circumstance to work in a crocodile outfit before  a more surrealist turn of events take control and a more moving tale takes shape.

 Following this was Billy Letford who rendered what appeared to be a freeform piece about the late night bus journey of your worst nightmares. In truth the work was far too structured to be spontaneous but he delivered it without prompting or notes and made it seem totally effortless whilst his confidence in what he was doing was blatantly apparent  providing a highlight of the evening.

 The first musical segment of the evening- at least the first full set I caught- was by the Wellgreen who with their stunningly beautiful harmonies and immaculate pop sensibilities came across as  Simon and Garfunkel meets the Monkees and in the best way imaginable. The two piece had a sound that was distinctly pure but also strayed away from being overly mawkish. From then it was straight into the closing musical act Linden which I felt was more of the same-including band members- slightly bulked out with more musical muscle but somehow without the potency of what had gone immediately before. Perhaps it was too similar to come on immediately and suffered in comparison  but it didn’t really register with me as much as I felt it should have.

  This was however the penultimate Neu Reekie of 2013 at Summerhall and with Withered Hand and Teen Canteen lined up for the next one I felt this was more of a low key and relaxed affair than some of their more recent outings. It still had its highlights- Billy Letford Janette Ayachi and the Wellgreen maintained the high Neu Reekie standards expected- and the change of format indicates that shaking things up is still high on the agenda and this already has me looking forward to October’s edition.


The Poet Speaks- Patti Smith and Philip Glass


Patti Smith returns to Scotland in 2013 not as a rock and roll star but in her original guise as a poet accompanied by Philip Glass in their joint tribute to mutual friend, mentor and inspiration Allen Ginsberg. It is a role which suits Smith well as it was as a poet that she initially made her break and the rock star thing was some kind of unplanned but happy accident.

  During the seventies she realised that instead of being a poet using the medium of rock and roll she had somehow become a rock star who was now playing at being a poet and in her eyes a poet is not something you can merely play at. Subsequently she retired as a rock star and only returned to that particular arena after the deaths of those close to her and she had reconciled the dichotomy of the two art forms within herself, now able to afford her two great loves the respect they both deserve.

 So her position centre stage last night was met with the usual whoops and hollers her mere appearance merits but instead of electrifying the atmosphere with the onslaught of electric power she waited for a reverent hush to descend before summoning up a magic of a different nature.

 Her first poem ‘Notes to the Future’ was fittingly one of her own writings and it became apparent immediately that her voice, wizened, croaky,, assured but still thick with youthful exuberance punctuating every syllable with significance and nuance can captivate as much as her primal rock and roll outpourings. Accompanied by Glass’s tinkling piano strains you could hear the scream of a butterfly in the full to capacity Playhouse. Ginsberg’s ‘Wichita Vortex Sutra’ with its references to ‘Language taxed by war’ followed on from this impressive opening with accompaniment not merely assisting the words but helping them to gain flight.

 Another of Smith’s own poems followed this before she introduced Tony Shanahan on guitar and stepped briefly into her more familiar role-unable to abandon her rock and roll leanings completely and why the Hell should she when she doesn’t merely play either of these roles but actually lives them?- she gave a powerful acoustic rendition of ‘Dancin’ Barefoot’ proving her voice does not need the raw power of a full band to generate an electric warrior with savage intention.


 A reading of ‘Escape at Bedtime’ continued this feel but it was a cover of John Lennon’s ‘Beautiful Boy’ and its now classic line ‘Life is what happens to you when you’re busy making other plans’ which consolidated her stance and stood alone as a thing of true beauty. Mawkish, lachrymose and somewhat indulgent in the hands of its composer, Smith stripped it back and transformed it into a work of poignancy and awe inducing intensity. Childhood favourite Robert Louis Stevenson’s ‘Land of Nod’ paved the way neatly for a rousing version of ‘Pissing in a River’ before Smith left the stage for Glass to take centre position and perform three small pieces cohered into one solitary lengthy piece.


 This section of the show seemed to cause unrest among several audience members-it is hard to share a stage with someone of Smith’s stature but Glass is as strong and important an artist as she- but I found it breathtaking even if  his visual dynamic and charismatic presence was not as strong as his cohort and collaborator.

 Smith returned to perform Ginsberg’s tribute to one of his favourite family members ‘To Aunt Rose’ before a totally stunning, heartfelt and engrossing reading of his ‘On the Cremation of Chogyam Trungpa Vidyahara’ a tribute to his former teacher and mentor who performed the same role for him as he performed for Smith and Glass. ‘Holy’ –a footnote to the definitive beat poem ‘Howl’- introduced verbal riffing which was rock and roll in all but name and execution and rounded off a totally stunning show.

 Pausing only for the rapturous applause to die down the trio returned to the stage for a, more than usually, relaxed version of ‘People Have the Power’ which for me is not one of Smith’s greater songs but one but admittedly preferable in this incarnation than in its more usual rebel rousing style.

 So Patti Smith proved yet again that whatever it is she has, she still has it. Philip Glass more than ably matched her onstage and Tony Shanahan was a more than welcome addition but somehow it was still Patti’s show all the way!



Die Roten Punkte


‘Make some noise, Danke Edinburgh’ and we’re off into 2013’s Die Roten Punkte show.

 I loved them the last time they were here and it is safe to say I loved them this time around. Still incorporating elements of Spinal Tap and the White Stripes-their brother and sister routine is twisted in a way Jack and Meg only ever pretended to be-  Australians Clare Bartholomew and Daniel Tobias adopt the personas of Otto and Astrid Rot as well as dubious German accents. What is interesting however is that the musical segments are actually really good and could blow several current rock acts out the water with their sheer verve and chutzpah. Cut through with salacious humour only makes this into two shows in one with both of them being extremely worthwhile.

 After preliminary introductions are out the way the duo launch into ‘Burger Store Dinosaur’ and are really rocking out until Otto  hits a bum note and Astrid calls proceedings to a halt forcing him to apologise for his mistake. After this we are informed that they are currently making ‘Kunst Rock’-art rock- and seeking inspiration from Brian Eno before launching into a Pixies influenced number ‘Bananenhaus’ then, in the true spirit of 1977 punk rock, a quick sprint through ‘The Situation’ followed by ‘Second Best Friend’ and the curse of the late sixties early seventies a mini rock opera before concluding with an improvised loop driven experimental piece then back to short, sharp delirious rock and roll

The musical numbers were interspersed with amusing banter alongside quick witted and racy audience participation which meant that this show never lost momentum and managed to keep the audience entertained and fixated throughout. The humour was as well constructed as the music so the talent on display was quite extraordinary. This is definitely a show to see if you want a fun night out with dark humour and good music. Once again, Danke Berlin!


Die Roten Punkte is on at 8.55pm at Assembly George Square, Bosco until August 25th.