As part of this years Celtic Connections, Glasgow’s Royal Concert Hall played host to a concert for Alliance this evening.
Some of Scotland’s finest musicians, both young and a little less young had come out to support a number of charities including Age Scotland, Sense Scotland, Carers Trust, Quarriers and Unity.
A celebration of all caring in Scotland, it was all about Letters life and Love.
Host for the evening Cathy McDonald spoke of how humbled she had been whilst reading some of the stories that carers from across Scotland had shared. And although the night was a celebration, bringing together some fine musical talent, it was evident to see just how much the cause meant to everyone. And of course, what would a concert celebrating caring be without carers.
In numbers, carers from Ayrshire, Glasgow, Aberdeen, Dundee, Skye, Shetland and Orkney but to name a few places from across Scotland came and made their presence felt. After all, this concert was for them.
The music started with Little Fire. Hailing from Ayrshire, his acoustic melodies were just the ticket to kick start the night. Keep an eye out for his debut album later this year. Such a packed line up meant only time for two or three songs for each act and next up was the hypnotic voice of the mesmerisingly talented Siobhan Wilson. Simply put, her first track The Terrible Woman was acoustic bliss.
The guys from Kassidy followed, a sound, which rightly or wrongly reminded me of The Beach Boys meets kings of Leon with John McEnroe on bass. (Check them out, you might see what I mean) Their guitar sound and energetic drumming provided a really good groove. They gave way to Horse MacDonald, who started by sharing a story about caring that was very close to her heart. She told of the gift she had given to her own mother when she was dying… then duly shred the song “Carefully” with the audience. A very emotional rendition reminded everyone just why they were there.
Scottish favourites Hue and Cry then took to the stage and closed the first half of the evening performing Labour of love, Violently and the song they encouraged us all to make the opening song of the 2014 Commonwealth Games… Mother Glasgow.
Following the interval, Joe Nisbet Jr kicked things off with a few songs from his new album that took 4 days to record but he reckoned had been 30 years in the making. His blend of easy bluesy sound and sing along toe tapping had everyone back into the swing of things.
Next, Emma Pollack performed three numbers with the Cairn string Quartet including Don’t make me wait.
Tommy Reilly started off by fooling the light technicians by taking his seat at the piano for his opener, Out There Somewhere. Just Woken up on acoustic guitar was next. A super cool sound from a super cool guy.
Admiral Fallow then shared a couple of songs about friends, family, self evaluation – real life really, including Beatle in the Box.
And so Eddi Reader took to the stage, donning apparel we have come to know and associate with her so well. As had many before her on this beautiful evening she shared a few stories of caring, of ownership and of the love that makes the Scots such magnificent people. She closed with a fantastic rendition of Mona Lisa, delivered in the true style of that cigarette yielding Scottish Auntie that everyone knows and loves so well.
Finally, the whole gang of artist were then reunited on stage for one last song. And, as if anyone needed any reminding what the evening was all about, the closing number summed it all up perfectly. Lean on Me!
And who better than Tommy Whitlelaw, the man who organised the evenings event, to give the closing words.
Asked to be introduced simply as carer and son, Tommy told the audience his mothers life had been a love story.
And that the night had felt like a love story too.
I doubt anyone in the audience would disagree!
The short walk from Edinburgh’s Waverley station toward West Maitland Street on Friday night was dreich. Rain too light to be bouncing off the street, but still enough to soak you to the skin should you choose to stay out in it too long.
Lucky then that my destination, The Voodoo Rooms, only required me to cross Princes Street and duck around the side of The Cafe Royal.
Blink though and you might easily miss this hidden gem. It nestles quietly off the cobbles on the backstreet, only seconds from the bustle of the city centre.
A solitary door is the only evidence from the road that the place exists, but the large sign above let’s you know you are in the right place. As you enter and climb the short flight of stairs you arrive in a dark but cosy gothic reception room. The walls are black with gold trim and a glance up reveals a lavish golden monikered lampshade. Ahead leads to the long narrow bar, which, with it’s black walls, golden fixtures and subtle décor, give the feel of an exclusive club. To the rear of the reception area, and up a couple more stairs, leads to The Ballroom.
A small crowd of gig goers had gathered by just after 7PM waiting on the doors to the Ballroom opening, all eagerly anticipating tonight’s artist.
Just before 7.30PM the door to the ballroom was opened and those with tickets or luckily enough to be on the guest list to the evenings sold out event, were welcomed into the ballroom.
The rectangular room, set out as a live music venue, becomes evident, with sound booth at the rear middle, and stage front.
The walls are black, the trim gold. Ceiling fixtures of gold are in keeping with venue’s interior, whilst a large resplendent disco ball sparkles as a fitting centre piece.
The white pinhole spots on the walls combined with the mellow hip hop backing track, gave an indoor equivalent of a starry moonlit smooth groove laden ambience. A very nice effect indeed, of the magical intimate venue.
The chat was lively, drinks were being savoured and then to the stage came Little Fire.
This unmistakable gravelly voice hails from Ayrshire, yes homegrown talent.
An upbeat start was of meeting a girl. And although through his set some solemn numbers followed, the general feeling was vibrant. The young man should hold strong to his high hopes as he possesses a natural talent and flare for being on the stage.
You mean something to me and 10 ways are great tracks, with a real positive upbeat attitude towards life. All I need in life had heads swaying and seemed to sum up how Little Fire perhaps felt being on the stage. He seemed very at home, right down to the shared banter with crowd. A mutual feeling of respect between artist and audience resounded sweetly with the city’s culture being tipped a wink before Little Fire thanked the headline act for the opportunity. (Keep an eye out for more information on Little Fire, soon on the site.) Positivity oozed in his voice, not difficult to understand why he’d been chosen to support Andrew Roachford.
In true understated style, Andrew Roachford took to the stage as the opening chords of Ebony on loop, built the crowd anticipation.
Smiles all around the filled ballroom doesn’t quite give enough gravitas to the atmosphere that surrounds a Roachford gig. The feeling of warmth, of being wrapped up in a big Roachford family gathering is what it feels like. Love eminates every inch of the the room and centre stage Andrew has everyone in the palm of his hand.
The set comprised of a mix of old and new. Tracks from new album The Beautiful Moment combined wonderfully with numbers from his previous albums to ensure the evening went from funky to soulful to rock and back. Watching him on stage, felt like Andrew loved every single moment as much as the audience. Along with his band, he has honed his craft carefully over the years, to the point of delivering a masterclass in velvet harmonies, musical timing and direction, showmanship and stage presence. There is always plenty of chat to be heard after a Roachford gig, around people’s disbelief at how Roachford has never had sustained global musical superstardom. Friday was no exception.
And whilst it’s easy to agree, many are happy to let it remain one of life’s great mysteries.
I guess perhaps it’s a shared belief that when so much positive energy flows and love is welcomed in to a room, when this man plays, let’s just all be grateful.
I Get High
The Beautiful Moment
The Way I Feel
Ride The Storm
Family Man teaser
Work It Out (livin in the city)
Lay your love
Over your shoulder
Only To Be With You