Posts Tagged ‘ Scotland ’


Just an Observation

For those who indulge in such frivolity I would just like to say ‘Happy Valentines Day’ and to the rest of you I simply say ‘Welcome to the weekend’. For those who want to combine both Valentines day and the weekend then I can think of no better place to start than Lux Lives at Henry’s Cellar Bar in Edinburgh tonight and at McChuills in Glasgow tomorrow. Certainly I will be there swinging my carcass around to the primal beats of the various Cramps celebratory acts on show and if this doesn’t make your weekend swing then probably your weekend ain’t got no swing!
Also happening tonight is Woodland Creatures first birthday party from 7pm onwards. In a week that an article appeared claiming Leith Walk as the best high street in Scotland-even though technically it isn’t a high street- it is fitting that this bar situated halfway down is celebrated as part of that achievement as it has done a lot in providing a bar with integrity and style for those who are seeking these things. Especially in an area which has not always been renowned for such qualities. Although I am not an ardent pub goer I have found myself in Woodland Creatures on several occasions since it opened- every time has been a most pleasurable experience- and I don’t even live in the locale.
It is not alone in the renaissance of Leith Walk however as it would appear that quite a burgeoning underground scene is occurring in the area whilst the city centre is busy pandering to tourists and stag and hen parties. It certainly says something about uptown when I body swerve the mundane offerings there and head down to Leith to catch up with some really interesting folk and worthwhile events.
Another venue which is well worth checking out this week is Summerhall and its Spring shows. Lat week saw the opening of this event and Colin Jarvie’s In Praise of Shadows retrospective which turned out to be a great night where anyone who was anyone involved in creating a youthful vibrant scene in Edinburgh, so many years ago, turned out in force looking more glamorous and healthy than many of us deserved to.
Another highlight-there are many so give yourselves a good few hours and get along there to check them all out- was definitely Kevin Williamson’s Love to Love You Baby installation which is a Donna Summer tribute and also the best dance you will have in a disco complete with strobes and flashing lights. I certainly spent the best Tuesday afternoon I have had in years there this week and I have the photos and videos to prove it. I did wonder however if there was a secret camera filming each person’s reaction whilst they were in there but I didn’t let this stop or trouble me too much. Obviously!
Things are even looking up on the television front this week with the return of ‘Line of Duty’ for a second series. I know it is yet another police drama but the interesting thing about this one is the fact it is police investigating themselves, or at least the corruption that exists in the force. From the opening sequence the tension was ratcheted up to full whilst the drama never let up and at the denouement of the first episode I was on the edge of my seat, literally gagging for more.
It is reassuring to see the BBC provide some decent drama for a change-last years ‘The Fall’ was another series of note-and something to fill the void left by the departure of Nordic Noir-such as ‘The Bridge’ and ‘The Killing’- though I still feel they need to rethink their scheduling as one hour every week is simply an outdated mode of showing dramas such as these especially in a culture of box sets. The BBC are probably the only station who have not recognised this –even ITV with its two hour ‘Midsomer Murders’ have cottoned onto this although I feel that these are often at least one hour fifty nine minutes too long- and also seem to consign their highest quality dramas to BBC2. Again, I feel they underestimate their audience and this is always a grave mistake.
Out at the cinema Dallas Buyers Club is yet another great film released so far in the early stages of 2014. Both Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto are up for nominations for their performances and, alongside Leonardo DiCaprio in The Wolf of Wall Street, I think they are the most deserving of all the contenders in their categories. A full review of the film can be found here.
There has been a lot of healthy-and some not so- debating concerning the Scottish independence vote over the last week. A supposed major cog in the wheel reared its head concerning the currency debate with the three major Westminster parties saying that if Scotland does vote for independence then it will no longer allowed to use the pound as its chosen currency.
Whilst I am not in possession of the full details of the issue I must admit that it does sound suspiciously like the bullying and intimidating tactics of those who are running scared. That it comes in the week after it was announced that the ‘Yes’ vote is gaining momentum faster than the ‘No’ vote is even more suspect to me. Surely even if Scotland does vote for independence it is in the best interests of the rest of the UK to allow them to continue to use the pound as this will preserve at least some of the union they insist is so important to them. Or is it only important to them on their terms alone?
Right, if this weekend is beginning then I better make a move and try and locate that dark heart of mine in time to get Cramped later. It is also the two week countdown to the next Rammed featuring the Fini Tribe Soundsytem and this is another night which promises to be something special so clear a date for February 28th in your diaries and there will be more details about this next week.


Just an Observation

Late yesterday evening the sad news that Nelson Mandela had died began to filter through and I am sure I am not alone when I say that my initial reaction was of a deep sadness followed by warmth generated by the thoughts of hope that this great man-quite possibly the greatest- of our times had always generated.
As the inevitable tributes gush forward and at a time when our own country is in a deep crisis and separation it would be a good time to think back on the message of equality Mandela delivered and fought for against all the odds, even in his darkest moments of incarceration by an apartheid run state.
Mandela’s involvement with the ANC saw him being imprisoned in 1962 for striking out for racial equality at a time when such measures were considered revolutionary. Whilst I am aware the ANC’S tactics were not alawys routed in peace it would do well to remember the cotrruption and violence at the heart of the regime they were up against. During his imprisonment radical changes were taking place globally as far as racial inequality and by the nineteen eighties his once seemingly radical policies were gaining international recognition and support from the international community. Interestingly the British government were not among those imposing sanctions on South Africa with our not so beloved or lamented leader at the time, Margaret Thatcher, even going as far to label him and his party the ANC as Terrorists. Support came from another source however and in the days when pop music still meant something and had a message to convey the Special AKA released ‘Free Nelson Mandela’ and highlighted his plight to a new generation and galvanised them into political thought that may have otherwise lain dormant,.
Having spent twenty seven years in jail he was eventually released in February 1990 and a mere four years later was president of South Africa. Despite this amazingly swift turnaround of events it was not a journey without its own problems and the day of his election he realised exactly what a tough road lay ahead of him in uniting a nation built on separatism. He however, through hard work and vision, managed to pull this off and became one of the most loved leaders of our time and beyond. His is a death which will be mourned but at the same time it is also a life which needs to be celebrated. We all owe him something and especially for enabling us in seeing there is always hope.
It certainly puts into perspective other news this week that Olympic diver Tom Daley has come out as gay. My initial reaction to this was, so what? Followed by whose business is it anyway?
The media certainly tried to make a meal of it but somehow it never ignited into the scandal they seemed to want it to. This is a good thing and although suspicions linger that Daley was forced to come out-his initial statement came via the Daily Mirror who are not known for their relaxed approach to such matters- my initial cynicism gave way to a certain admiration. Whilst I hope we are getting closer to a society which recognises that an individual’s sexuality is their own business and should not be a topic of discussion and debate, the furore surrounding Daley proved this is not quite the case. Hopefully his admission-why does that make it sound as if he is doing something wrong when in fact he hasn’t?-will encourage others struggling with their sexuality to take this step also. In the long run he is a good role model for any young gays out there and the world of athletics need more people to take this stance.
Tragedy struck in the centre of Glasgow last Friday night and the whole of Scotland is still reeling from the shock news after a police helicopter crash landed into a ity centre pub and live music venue The Clutha. So far there are nine fatalities with many others injured. Whilst the reasons for the crash have yet to be deciphered and fully investigated it does not detract that this was a major tragedy which brought home the fact how devastating a fact human loss is and even more so when it is so close to home.
All this news makes that other media storm involving media whore and all round non-entity Katie Hopkins somewhat lacklustre. I wouldn’t normally give her a mention but her comments about Scottish people having an average age of 59.5 as a means of avoiding working until retirement was in bad taste-and racist- especially coming the day after the tragedy in Glasgow mentioned above. That her statements were unrelated was unfortunate in its timing but somehow fortuitous that it led to online petitions demanding her removal from our screens. ITV eventually capitulated midweek and dispensed with her services. Unfortunately it looks like she may return via Celebrity (?) Big Brother on channel 5 and if this is true I just hope that those who petitioned for her removal so vehemently actually stand by their principles and boycott the programme rather than tuning in and then complaining how annoying/obnoxious/outspoken she is. If the latter turns out to be the case then those very same people who campaigned against her have no-one to blame but themselves.
On a more positive note the Summerhall Christmas art event opens tonight and looks like being a promising affair. also taking place this weekend-yes the whole weekend- is the Villager on George IV Bridge. Always one of my favourite bars this looks like being a weekend worth celebrating in true Villager style.Trying hard to embrace the festive spirit the serving of free alcohol accompanied by –hopefully- good art my resolve and humbug spirit starts to weaken and I feel myself sucked into the vacuous void that is Christmas cheer. Not so much that I can’t find my way out and back into my Scrooge outfit though. At least until Christmas Eve.


Princess Grace: More Than An Image


 This exclusive archive collection by Scottish knitwear specialists Pringle based on the style of Princess Grace of Monaco-who initially found fame as a Hollywood glamour icon under her own name of Grace Kelly- and drawn from her own private collection was a lesson in understated but classic chic. Timeless, effortless and exuding both class and glamour whilst the opulent surroundings of the Signet Library simply enhanced these features commendably without distracting from them.

 The Princess Grace theme was not just a gimmick  tagged on to promote sales, as in the case of too many high street stores and the never ending round of non entity celebrities only too willing to  lend their name, promote their egos and share their style ‘secrets’ with the public, but a genuine attempt to capture the essence of this ineffably chic lady and her ever enduring style conscious look. To complement the look however Pommery Champagne was served and the catwalk show’s musical accompaniment was Camille Saint-Saens’ cello piece ‘The Swan’ in reference to her wedding to Prince Rainier where the former was the drink of choice and the latter the music.

 As for the collection itself- sixteen pieces in all- it was like its muse in that it was understated whilst making a statement. The colours were mostly muted greys and blacks, vivid blues and pinks, whilst some were emblazoned with motifs and others accessorised with fake fur trims but all were highly covetable. Each piece is a limited edition however and with only the finest Scottish cashmere being used this makes them even more desirable as well as long lasting both in style and endurance terms.

 Available exclusively in Jane Davidson’s Thistle Street store this collaboration is already highly prestigious and before this show even took to the catwalk many orders had been taken for several of the pieces.

 In essence the collection is that of a fairytale princess literally straight out of the Hollywood film archives but in reality the clothes at its core are down to earth and basic but simultaneously overwhelmingly luxurious and effortlessly stylish; much like their muse!

 For further information about this collection and its availability please follow the link below


Edinburgh International Fashion Festival 2013


Following hot on the heels of last years success husband and wife team Jonathan and Anna Freemantle unveiled the line up for the second instalment of the Edinburgh International Fashion Festival in the opulent surroundings of the Peacock Gallery in the Waldorf Astoria on the hottest day Scotland has had in years. Melting under the glass roof were design team-another husband and wife duo- Clements Ribeiro- whose love and patronage of Scottish Cashmere which is simply the best in the world they revealed at the press conference although they, like many others, were unable to establish exactly why. Their new collection will preview at Mansfield House tomorrow evening in an opening gala which features a runway show then an after party launching things in suitably stylish fashion.

 Mixing tartan, punk, rebellion themes alongside those of romanticism and femininity is a trademark of Clements Ribeiro and one which they have wisely never deviated from too radically. From their first headline grabbing collection which remade/remodelled the old fashioned twin-set which had no cachet with a younger audience until they gave it an edgy twist and what was formerly the preserve of spinster aunts suddenly found a whole new younger audience as well as winning celebrity endorsements from the likes of Madonna and Nicole Kidman. This success launched them onto an international market almost immediately and this is a stage they have managed to negotiate from successfully ever since.


Inacio Ribiero and Suzanne Clements at the press launch of EIFF 2013 . Photograph by Tibor Galamb.

 The new collection does not move too far from the ethos of their original collection which is fitting as they first emerged in the midst of a recession-one of the reasons they work together is because it was hard enough to get one job never mind two- and buying clothes which last and stand the test of time is important when there is no money to spend on the frivolous and latest dictates of the so called fashion cognoscenti.

 This is merely the very glamorous beginning however and various events will take place over the next two weekends focussing on fashion as performance and storytelling. Following Friday’s extravaganza there is the launch of Life Story’s ‘Sutori’ collection in London Street on Saturday which sounds like the perfect hangover cure for those who have partied a little too hard at the opening festivities.

Sunday unveils Symposium, a collection of talks and panelled discussions on various subjects and with luminaries such as Amanda Harlech and Bella Freud guest hosting-among many others- it sounds an intriguing prospect which anyone with an interest in fashion’s origins and what it articulates would be unwise to miss, Taking place at Summerhall the day rounds off with drinks in the Royal Dick and with another sweltering weekend on the card it could make for an exceptional day out.

 During the week several other events take place including an Open Studio on Wednesday in Leith and a men’s collection at Harvey Nichols on Thursday. Saturday sees Future Fashion taking place during the day at the City Art Centre and this is followed by a fashion show at 5pm. The weekend and festival closes with Gianni Scumaci unplugged followed by a closing party in the Voodoo Rooms where everyone can breathe a sigh of relief, knock back a few drinks and upstage each other with their party outfits.

  Although last year’s festival was a success this year has built on that and taken things to a more sophisticated level and looks like not only repeating that success but actually improving on it! Definitely a worthwhile event and one worthy of support in a city where fashion and style, although lacking the effrontery of Glasgow, actually has more individual and less generic tastes than many would presume.

 Follow the Edinburgh International Fashion Festival link below for full details of upcoming shows and information on how to buy tickets for events.

Neu! Reekie 29

Neu Reekie 29


Starting twenty nine minutes late-although I had been waiting fifty minutes by this time- allegedly in homage to it being their twenty ninth show Neu! Reekie swept into action pretty much from the get go and didn’t really let up all night; in the best way imaginable, of course.

First on the agenda were three animated films from Czechoslovakia, Bulgaria and Denmark. First one up was fast paced, symphonic and symbolic whilst the second a dark brooding piece’7 Days in Warsaw’ was moody, monochromatic and brooding. The third film however was almost light hearted and more vibrantly colourful depicting a love story with a difference set against some amusing synchronised swimming and a Strauss soundtrack.

Barely pausing for breath it was swiftly onto the first of the night’s spoken word sections, Ron Butlin. Assisted by a jazz duo- Dick Lee and Ann Evans- to give his poems more structure he entreated us to his world view of Edinburgh as seen through Edinburgh’s Poet Laureate’s unique vision.

‘Gondolas OF Edinburgh’ was a witty detailing of the seeming incessant and unstoppable rains of last year which almost turned our fair city into not so much the Athens of the north but more its Venice. Second poem ‘How Can the Words I Love You?’ was the result of an auction where a specially commissioned poem was the main prize and was rendered especially poignant by the fact Butlin had to write a poem declaring love for and to a woman he had never actually met. Third poem was about the infuriating debacle formerly known as ‘The Trams’ which engenders an almost instant feeling of rage amongst the denizens of Edinburgh.

The musical accompaniment was, to these ears, superfluous however and often stumbled into seventies sitcom land but at times it did emit a bit of light relief and dramatic flourish.

Next up was more animation in the form of Bafta winner ‘I Am Tom Moody’ by Ainslie Henderson which was skilfully executed, amusing and well thought out-hence the Bafta perhaps- and as a recent convert to the joys of animation must admit I thoroughly enjoyed this as I did several months ago when first seen when it was shown at an earlier Neu Reekie.

More spoken word followed with Miriam Gamble who introduced us to her world of feral cats- as opposed to domesticated ones- and other wholesomely random topics before making way for the first of the evenings musical interludes; Frightened Rabbit’s Scott Hutchison making a solo appearance after a successful outing for his band the previous evening in Glasgow.

Elements of Damien Rice and the more acceptable end of Van Morrison wound their way into this set and the standout track was one opining ‘Blood is thicker than concrete’. It was a short, concise and sharp set performed totally ‘unplugged’ without even a microphone for company. That it was emotionally raw and heartfelt and able to reach a whole roomful of people only added to how impressive this set actually was.

Final act of the evening was the legends that are indie stalwarts The BMX Bandits who turned in a whimsical and amusing set which although occasionally teetered on the precipice of twee somehow always managed to pull itself back from the edge just in time. A summery vibe permeated their numbers and on what felt like to many the first day of spring they could not have streamed the zeitgeist better if they had tried to do so. Standout track was ‘Fireworks’ which was penned by Teen Canteen- playing at next month’s instalment incidentally- Diva, Carla Easton, which suited their sensibilities down to the ground.

That wrapped up another instalment then of Edinburgh’s most consistent night out. As noted before the next edition is on the 29th of March and features live music from Teen Canteen as well as a host of other surprises which have yet to be announced. Also on the agenda is an appearance at the Poetry Club in Glasgow on April 13th which will host the first full live set by Edinburgh super-group led by former Fire Engine, Davy Henderson. That is a date definitely not to be missed!